HYDERABAD: Hyderabad is the second-most surveilled city in the world, beating major cities such as London, Beijing and New York. Hard to believe? Read on. A study — ‘The Top Surveillance Cities Worldwide’ conducted by Surfshark and published in the South Asia Journal — says Hyderabad has 480 CCTVs per sq km and 30 for every 1,000 people.
This number is second only to Chennai which is adjudged as the most surveilled city in the world. The Tamil Nadu capital has 657 CCTVs per sq km and 25.5 CCTVs per 1,000 people. London comes a distant fourth when compared to Hyderabad, with 399 cameras per sq km. Six Chinese cities feature in the top 10 — Beijing, Harbin, Xiamen and so on. Surfshark, a company that offers VPN solutions, alluded this increasing mode of surveillance to social theorist Jeremy Bentham.
In 1785, social theorist Jeremy Bentham designed ‘Panopticon’ — a prison building where the guard at the centre can watch every prisoner around him. “The prisoners would never know who he was watching — so in theory, they’d behave responsibly, as though they were being watched. Today, Panopticon has escaped the prison. It’s in our CCTV cameras and every digital trace we leave,” Surfshark said in its study.
Although senior officials of the Hyderabad Police did not respond to queries made by Express, they have maintained that CCTV cameras play a major role in the prevention of crime and help identify criminals. Recently, while addressing mediapersons, City Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar attributed the decrease in crime rate to the installation of CCTV cameras, among other factors such as intensive patrolling and continuous criminal tracking.
In another study by Comparitech conducted in 2020, Hyderabad was adjudged as the 16th-most surveilled city in the world. The study had then said that there are 30 cameras for every 1,000 people.