Infographic: The World’s Most Surveilled Cities


Visual Capitalist have taken data from a recent report by Comparitech to visualise the most surveilled cities in the world:


Excluding China, the top four cities all belong to India where surveillance cameras are playing a key role in the country’s efforts to reduce crimes against women. Singapore, Moscow, Baghdad, London, St Petersburg and Los Angeles occupy the next six places.

IHS Markit estimate that over 1 billion surveillance cameras are installed worldwide and that 54% of these are located in China. Marcus Lu, a content strategist for Visual Capitalist, says:

“Because of limited transparency, it’s impossible to pinpoint how many cameras are actually in each Chinese city. However, if we assume that China has 540 million cameras and divide that amongst its population of 1.46 billion, we can reasonably say that there are 373 cameras per 1,000 people (figures rounded). A limitation of this approach is that it assumes everyone in China lives in a city, which is far from reality. The most recent World Bank figures suggest that 37% of China’s population is rural, which equates to over 500 million people. With this in mind, the number of cameras per 1,000 people in a Tier 1+ Chinese city (e.g. Shanghai) is likely far greater than 373″.

China’s expansive use of facial recognition technology enables the country’s social credit program, which “gives local governments an unprecedented amount of oversight over its citizens. For example, China’s camera networks can be used to verify ATM withdrawals, permit access into homes, and even publicly shame people for minor offences like jaywalking”. This, Marcus points out, “might sound like a dystopian nightmare to Western audiences, but according to Chinese citizens, it’s mostly a good thing. In a 2018 survey of 2,209 citizens, 80% of respondents approved of social credit systems”.

For further insights and additional illustration, check out Marcus Lu’s unabridged article, “Ranked: The World’s Most Surveilled Cities” on the Visual Capitalist website (originally published, along with the infographic above, on 6th October 2022)  

Feature Image Source: Gerd Altmann on Pixabay 

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