China has built the world's largest video surveillance network and it's increasingly capable of automatically identifying people's basic information. As Ciara Lee reports, a generation of young entreprenuers is taking advantage of advances in technology and the country's huge market for surveillance.
China has the world's largest video surveillance network in the world. And the capabilities of their tens of millions of cameras is growing. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) SENSETIME CO-FOUNDER XU CHIHENG, SAYING: "In 2014 we surpassed the identification accuracy rate of the human eye. We can use facial recognition to automatically determine whether a person matches his ID card." SenseTime's facial recognition is in great demand, particularly from the government. It means Chinese firms are now beating global competition. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) PROFESSOR AT TSINGHUA UNIVERSITY'S DEPARTMENT OF ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING, WANG SHENGJIN, SAYING: "First of all you need to resolve where the face is in a scene or an image. We need to locate key points on the face, like the edges of the eyes, the tip of the nose, and the edges of the mouth. Then we can go into the database to compare faces. There are issues of safety and privacy but Chinese people care more about safety." Public acceptance of surveillance has enabled firms like Cloudwalk to thrive. The local police department is a client. It may soon be able to predict crime by looking at the way people walk. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT OF CLOUDWALK, ZHANG LI, SAYING: "If people of interest to the police frequently appear on our cameras at important locations, our system can analyse their behaviour to see if they look suspicious." You can't hide by changing your walk or covering your face either. Gait recognition technology and voice identification are also available. China reportedly wants to be able to identify any citizen within seconds. It's apparently compiling a massive database to achieve that. Other countries may not approve but big brother's closer scrutiny is certainly given China's technology sector a boost.