Singapore is the 11th most-surveilled city in the world, according to UK comparison website Comparitech, and 3rd most-surveilled outside of China. According to the rankings released by Comparitech on 15 August based on a study of 120 cities, Chinese cities have some of the highest number of CCTV cameras per person.
In Singapore, Comparitech notes there are about 15.25 cameras per 1,000 people. Following closely was Abu Dhabi (12th place), Chicago (13th place), and Sydney (15th place) with 13.77, 13.05, and 12.35 cameras per 1,000 people respectively.
Even so, those numbers are much smaller compared to the numbers in Chinese cities which make up 8 out of the top 10 most-surveilled cities around the globe.
The city of Chongqing takes the lead with over 2.5 million cameras for 15.3 million people. That’s about 168.03 cameras for every 1,000 people. In a close second was Shenzen followed by Shangai in third with 159.09 and 113.46 cameras per 1,000 people respectively.
The only non-Chinese cities in the top 10 were London in 6th place with 68.40 cameras per 1,000 people and Atlanta, Georgia in 10th place with 15.56 cameras per 1,000 people.
More cameras doesn’t mean better safety or less crime
Curiously, Comparitech noted in its report that there was little correlation between the number of public CCTV cameras and crime or safety.
“A higher number of cameras just barely correlates with a higher safety index and lower crime index. Broadly speaking, more cameras doesn’t necessarily result in people feeling safer,” it said.
Even so, the Singapore government has touted time and again the necessity for CCTV around the island in helping deter crime and increase safety and security, especially relating to road and traffic security.
Since 2014, CCTVs have been gradually deployed island-wide to enforce parking offences along roads where illegal parking is rampant. In 2016, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that they would have about 130 CCTVs operating around Singapore by 2017 to help curb traffic offences.
In July 2018, Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan said that the installed CCTV cameras have proven to effectively reduce illegal parking offences by as must as 90% in certain locations around Singapore.
Apart from traffic offences, the police have also pushed to have cameras in every HDB block. In 2016, the Straits Times noted that 11,000 cameras will be installed over the next four years, on top of the 65,000 police cameras that will be in place by the end of 2016.
Also in 2016, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugan said that the network of CCTVs will ramp up island-wide surveillance and deter any plots of terror attacks on Singapore.