The New York Times has the fascinating story of Urumqi, China, which is poised to dethrone Chicago as the world's most-watched city.
Due in part to ethnic rioting, terrible traffic jams, dwindling police resources--and good old-fashioned government meddling--47,000 cameras keep watch over Urumqi's streets. By year's end, there will be about 60,000.
“This is not a self-contained system of video surveillance, but one part in a much larger architecture of surveillance that includes Internet monitoring and censorship, telecommunications and law enforcement databases,” Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, wrote in an e-mail exchange. “Privacy safeguards are simply nonexistent in China, making the state entirely free to mobilize this architecture of surveillance for political ends.”