Huawei to Supply Mandalay’s ‘Safe City’ Project with Cameras, Security Equipment

By Myat Pyae Phyo 9 May 2019

MANDALAY—Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei will provide surveillance cameras and other security equipment for use in Mandalay’s “Safe City” plan, according to a Mandalay regional government minister.

The regional government will sign a deal with Huawei next month to establish Mandalay as a “Safe City”, regional Minister for Electricity, Industry and Construction U Zarni Aung told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

“A lot of progress has been made toward signing the contract. We have to examine the standard and prices of every item, as we are using government funds to implement [the plan],” the minister said.

As part of the Safe City plan, CCTV cameras will be installed in crime-ridden parts of the city. The cameras will be equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and facial-recognition technology, as well as alarm systems to alert the nearest police station in case of a crime.

The cost is expected to be 1.9 billion kyats. The CCTV cameras will initially be installed in Maha Aung Myay, Chan Mya Thazi and Pyi Gyi Tagun townships.

The three townships are large and have relatively high crime rates, according to a survey conducted by district police and Huawei.

“As Mandalay has developed, people from other parts of the country have come to work here, so there are different types of people here now. And authorities still haven’t been able to tackle the drug problem. As the project will be implemented with public funds, it is important to make sure that it benefits the people,” Mandalay resident Ko Sithu Kyaw told The Irrawaddy.

The smart CCTV monitoring system will come into operation within six months of the contract being signed. The system will be expanded to other parts of the city and toll gates depending on the availability of funds, the minister said.

“We want to guarantee the rule of law and security for the city. So, we will launch the ‘Safe City’ plan. There will be stability only when there is rule of law and security. Only then will investors come to us,” regional Chief Minister Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said at the Mandalay Economic Forum in March.

Amid widespread allegations that Huawei has close links to Beijing and has been involved in espionage against Western governments, the company’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada in December at the request of the U.S., which accuses the firm of committing fraud by lying to U.S. banks to avoid complying with Washington’s sanctions on Iran. Huawei rejects the charges.

“Everyone knows the Chinese-American drama. I don’t want to dwell on it. But even the E.U. uses Huawei for its 5G network. China is our neighbor and we have no doubt about the technologies of Huawei,” minister U Zarni Aung said.

Mandalay District already has a CCTV surveillance system in place. Local police have installed 130 monitors across the district, including at important entry and exit points, as a crime-prevention tool.

After a rash of muggings in Mandalay at the end of last year, the regional government launched an anti-crime scheme. In the first three months of the campaign, police arrested around 300 suspects in over 200 cases of mugging, according to the regional Security and Border Affairs Ministry.