Security is a high priority at the China Olympics, and it will be everywhere. The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said last year that it expects to spend $300 million to $400 million on Olympic security, with at least $30 million of that for video security.
American companies have been working with Chinese companies to design and install one of the most sophisticated public surveillance systems in the world. General Electric, Honeywell, IBM, and United Technologies are all involved. Also, Texas Instruments is supplying its chips to Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., China’s largest security tech company.
Honeywell along with Chinese officials are developing a computer monitoring system to analyze feeds from indoor and outdoor cameras in Beijing’s most populated districts. GE also sold its VisioWave system to China. It’s designed to enable security staffs to control thousands of video cameras simultaneously, and automatically alert them of suspicious activity—like fast-moving objects, such as people running.
But the shipment of high-tech security gear to China has raised concerns that caught the attention of the U.S. Commerce Department. Officials reportedly reviewed the list of equipment intended for shipment to China to check for potential banned exports, including possibly equipment intended for military use. At the same time, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been talking with Chinese authorities about how it can assist in the Olympic security effort, particularly in the area of global information sharing.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) already told athletes that they can blog in Beijing, but with some restrictions. (They must be “dignified and in good taste.”) China also said that it will not guarantee it won’t censor the Internet during the Games. It may even shut down some sites it considers anti-government, a concern that has already been expressed by journalists planning to cover the Games.