Thursday, November 18, 2004

Big Brother Beida

Big Brother Beida

To the quite a few Chinese people CCTV means 'China Central
Television'. To the also not so few Beida guards 'Closed-Circuit
Television' might come to mind. In building 4 at the international
students dorm at Peking University there is a guard watching a hell of
a lot of CCTV feeds with the most modern CCTV system I have ever seen.

I thought the place was secret and I never dared to stay and look at
it. Until two days ago when I passed by with a friend who knew the
guard currently on duty. We went in to the control room and asked the
guard if he could demonstrate the system. To my surprised he started
to show us the system as if we had given him an order. Soon we were
playing around with the controls ourselves and tried to find ourself
in the massive backup of footage of numerous places on campus. The
whole thing is completely computerized and recorded on hard drives. In
a few clicks you can go back weeks and zoom in on people or sweep over
360 degrees panoramas.

The guard is just a dummy sitting there waiting for time to pass by,
watching so the system won't burn up, and possible occasionally zoom
in on some pretty girl. Nobody watches the stuff in real time. If
something do happen they do have quite a lot of possibilities.

Guess this adds to the rumour that guards at the campus are involved
in the big business of stealing and selling bikes... If not, they
could have solved that problem in a second.

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