Some 800 surveillance cameras installed in public spaces, with 2,600 to be added by 2023

As of Friday, Macau will have 800 more surveillance cameras installed in public spaces, the Government announced today (Wednesday), with a total of 2,600 cameras expected to be added by 2023.

The authorization for the new video surveillance cameras was published today in the Official Gazette and is classified by the authorities as “one of the priority works for urban security”.

The first three phases of the video surveillance system had already guaranteed the operation of 820 cameras in 2016 and 2018, which according to the authorities contributed to support 5,082 investigations of cases ranging from homicide, drug trafficking and arson, to theft, scams and assault.

The remaining cameras part of the ‘Eyes in the Sky’ project will expand in 2022 and 2023 the video surveillance system to areas with a high concentration of people, in the new reclaimed areas, border posts and urban areas, namely close to schools and public transport stations.

The Government of Macau has justified the installation of 2,600 video surveillance cameras in a territory of 30 square kilometers, with about 670,000 residents and which last year received almost 40 million visitors, due to the deterrent effect in fighting crime.

However, the system has been viewed with some apprehension in terms of the protection of personal data by some jurists and legislators from the pro-democracy field, especially since the authorities announced of ‘software’ allowing for facial recognition.

In April, at the presentation of the Government’s Policy Address, Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak told legislators during an AL plenary session that “the trend towards the development of cybercrime, the significant changes in the operation of criminal associations, the increased risk of cross-border crimes, the complexity of maritime and coastal security environment and the instability brought about by illegal gambling activities pose challenges to law enforcement”.

Therefore, Wong Sio Chak promised to reinforce the bet on video surveillance and controversial facial recognition in the coming years, as a strategy that has allowed the solving of a large volume of crimes.