Tamil Nadu's capital city of Chennai has topped the global list in installing the maximum CCTV coverage per square kilometre and per 1,000 population, according to a recent report published in South Asia Journal.

The report, based on studies conducted across 130 cities worldwide, stated that Chennai has 657 cameras per sq km, making it the number one city in the world in terms of surveillance, while Telangana's capital Hyderabad is second on the list, with 480 CCTV cameras per square km.


History of surveillance technology

According to the report, the world's first CCTV camera was installed in Germany in 1942. But now there are nearly one billion devices.

"China and India are the countries with the highest densities of CCTV surveillance cameras in urban areas. Chennai, India, has 657 cameras per sq km, making it the number one city in the world in terms of surveillance," it said.

Meanwhile, Harbin city in north China has gained the third spot with 411 CCTV cameras per square km, followed by London which has 399 CCTV cameras per square km and the coastal city of Xiamen in southeast China with 385 CCTV cameras per square km, has been placed on the fourth and fifth position respectively.

India's capital New Delhi has been placed at 8th position among the top 10 cities with CCTV surveillance. Delhi has 289 CCTVs per square km and 14.2 CCTVs per 1000 people, according to the report.

Changing ecosystem of policing

In view of the above report, Chennai Police Commissioner Mahesh Kumar Aggarwal has further acknowledged how the presence of CCTV cameras has helped the department in maintaining law and order in the city and solving crimes more easily.

"We have extensive coverage of CCTV cameras in the entire city. The presence of CCTV cameras is very helpful in maintenance of law and order and detection of crimes. It has provided, time and again, vital clues for investigation. We are hoping to extend the coverage... The Tamil Nadu government has sanctioned funds for maintenance of CCTV cameras. Under the Nirbhaya Fund, we are going to install more CCTV devices that will have connectivity with control rooms for live streaming," Aggarwal said in an interview to The Hindu.

"We are hoping to extend the coverage," he added.


The installation of CCTV cameras gained momentum during the tenure of Aggarwal's predecessor AK Viswanathan.

"With the advent of CCTV devices, policing has changed entirely. In any crime investigation, the CCTV is the first instrument and handy tool to crack the case. Detection in criminal cases has increased," said Viswanathan, who is now Additional Director-General of Police, Operations.

Appreciating the participation of Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Viswanathan said: "Without political will, it is impossible for us to achieve this status. We advised individuals, shopkeepers and commercial establishments to install CCTV on their premises, focusing on streets or public places. We conducted continuous campaigns in every area."