There are many reasons why video surveillance (or closed-circuit television – CCTV) works less well than its advocates claim, and here is another to add to the list from China, the country with probably the most rapidly expanding surveillance infrastructure in the world, and the reason is: air pollution.
According to the South China Morning Post, the current record levels of smog in several major cities is leading to visibility of below three metres. It makes video surveillance, even with infrared or other night vision capabilities, useless, and there are no easy solutions.
The Chinese state is so paranoid about internal security, particularly following the recent apparent terrorist attack in Beijing, that it is even considering installing imaging radar systems, more normally found in battlefields and satellite systems. Apparently, dealing with either the root causes of the pollution or the ‘security’ issues (mainly political discontent across China’s massive and diverse land area) is not on the cards, so China continues to stay on the surveillance technology treadmill…
(thanks to Matt Wei for bringing this to my attention)