Telangana police district headquarters to get CCTV systems, experts apprehensive

Hyderabad was ranked 16th in the list of top 50 CCTV-surveilled cities in the world.
Telangana police district headquarters to get CCTV systems, experts apprehensive
Telangana police district headquarters to get CCTV systems, experts apprehensive
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The Telangana State Technology Services has sent a request proposal to initiate a project to set up 625 CCTV (closed-circuit television) systems at the 18 Telangana district headquarters in the state. The project is part of the plan to strengthen the police department. Telangana police headquarters across 18 districts likely to get surveillance systems. 

According to the proposal, “The city surveillance system has helped reduce crime, increase citizen safety, stop vandalism, deter civil unrest and monitor infrastructure. Monitoring public areas, analysing patterns and tracking incidents had become much easier due to the surveillance system.”

According to the police department, it is due to the features of the surveillance system that they intend to implement the high-definition Internet Protocol-based CCTV surveillance system across various locations within each district headquarters. The exact location and number of cameras are yet to be finalised. The district command centres will have remote access to the live and recorded video feeds on a regular basis.

While the project is likely to be implemented at the District Police Commissionerate in Karimnagar, Khammam, Nizamabad, Ramagundam, Siddipet and Warangal, there are 20 other places that have been included in the district headquarters as part of the project. According to the police department, these locations are subject to change once the project implementation begins.

Earlier this month, Minister for Information Technology KT Rama Rao instructed the Municipal Administration and Urban Development department to coordinate with the police department to ensure CCTV cameras are installed at all commercial complexes, gated communities, malls, IT parks, parks, shelter homes, government hospitals, bus terminals and markets.  

Minister KTR and Home Minister Mohammed Mahmood Ali had instructed officials to install new CCTV cameras in addition to the existing 5,80,000 cameras across the city. They hope to increase the number of cameras to 10 lakh.

KTR had stated that Hyderabad has the most number of CCTV cameras. Hyderabad bagged the 16th place in the list of top 50 CCTV-surveilled cities in the world, according to a survey by UK-based Comparitech, which reviews technology services.

Home Minister Mahmood Ali had stated that the safety and security of the citizens has been the top priority of the Telangana government and that due to the concerted efforts of the state police department, there is a considerable improvement in the law and order situation in Hyderabad city. 

Intention behind project important

Meanwhile, cybersecurity experts and researchers have shared their apprehensions about the surveillance project.

Hyderabad-based cybersecurity researcher Srinivas Kodali said, “The Telangana police want to become like the New York Police Department (NYPD). But they don't look at the consequences of the NYPD’s unconstitutional practices struck down by the US Supreme Court. The consequence of projects like these will be that we will end up in a system that is perpetually under surveillance.”

Febin James, a Bengaluru-based cybersecurity researcher, pointed out that understanding the intention behind the project is important. He said, “What needs to be checked is how the setting up of the CCTV cameras has fared so far. Latest technology like face recognition can be effective in identifying criminals, their patterns and also predicting crimes. If in good hands, there is a lot of potential, too. It all boils down to the true intention behind the move.”

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