Berlin is one of the most heavily monitored cities in Europe. Nothing comes even close to video surveillance in China, but a big surprise might be that Berlin, a pretty young, hipster, entrepreneurial and artistic city is also one of the most closely monitored cities in Europe.
It is predicted that during the year 2021, humans will be monitored by 1 billion cameras worldwide with the majority of those cameras being in China. To be more precise, a whooping 14 out of 15 top monitored cities in the world are located in China. This metric is however based on the number of cameras per 1000 citizens. The only outsider to this list is London. Believe it or not, London isn’t even the 15th or 14th on the list. It actually holds a strong 3rd place in the world.
Beijing, China is in 5th place by a number of cameras per citizen, but the overall number of cameras there is by ahead of any other city in the world. With over 1.1 million cameras in total. Yes, 1.1 million surveillance cameras monitoring your every step 24/7.
So how does Berlin rank against other cities? Although it will take around an hour to fly from London to Berlin, the situation is much different. London with over 600,000 cameras has roughly 37 times the amount of cameras. To be precise, Berlin has around 17.500 cameras while London has around 630,000. Although Berlin has a much, much lower number of cameras, it is still positioned as the 50th most monitored city in the world when taking into consideration the number of cameras and the number of citizens.
Is Big Brother watching you in Berlin and should you be concerned about your privacy? Actually no. Most cameras are not installed in streets, squares, and parks but in local public transport. What is a bit scarier is that according to the polling institute YouGov from 2019, many Germans are calm about the subject of camera surveillance and automated face recognition. Half of the participants are in favor of allowing facial recognition by authorities under strict conditions.
It will be interesting to see how this situation will develop in the upcoming 5 to 10 years. Facial recognition technology is already here and ready to be deployed everywhere. If those systems can process all those faces in China with a much, much higher number of faces passing by each second, I don’t see a reason why this would not work anywhere in Europe. How it will be used and how will people react to this at the end remains to be seen.
Big brother or not, with all the privacy laws inside the EU, it might be interesting to see how member states will react when/if this proposition comes on the table.
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