The Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have announced that from next year security cameras will be operating on the streets of District 1 to assist the Police in control traffic and public order. Many of the cameras will be operating in the small alleyways where security can be a problem.

Whilst this move will be welcomed by residents, there will naturally be some concerns regarding privacy and their effectiveness. These cameras are getting smarter all the time and quite frankly, they need to. The UK has more surveillance cameras than any other country in the world, yet their success in catching criminals is woefully inadequate. In one famous incident a woman was dragged from her car into roadside undergrowth and raped. The camera, despite looking straight at the incident was unable to pick up either the registration number of the car, nor a good enough image of the attacker.

The latest security cameras, feature HD imaging and computer controlled features
The latest security cameras, feature HD imaging and computer controlled features

These smart cameras should be different. For example, they are able to recognize when traffic flow is becoming a problem and automatically switch the traffic signals where needed. In addition the High Definition of cameras now is making recognition a much easier thing to deal with.
One of the hotspots of pick potting and street crime
Bui Vien: One of the hotspots of pickpocketing and street crime

Hopefully this will certainly have a positive effect on street crime in the hotspot areas like Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien. Being the victim of a phone theft myself there, it has to be a positive step. I am pretty street wise, but the girl who ‘bumped into’ me as I looked at a text message whilst sitting on my motorbike was clever. She hit me just hard enough to make me grab the handlebars for balance, and in doing so I took one hand off my phone.

A phone app will also be made available to residents in order that they can alert the city about security, sanitation or other problems. Deputy chairman of the District 1 People’s Committee, Le Truong Hai Hieu said, “The cameras will help police tackle street robberies and control traffic. Cameras have been installed in some alleyways in Pham Ngu Lao and Tan Dinh wards and have been very welcomed by local residents.”

  • It’s a great news for our city

  • I wonder what effect this will really have. When I was robbed at gunpoint last month and reported it to the police, the police asked me to make up an abbreviated story without mention of the gun so that “Vietnam wouldn’t look bad.” Then they changed their minds when they realized there was a security camera in the vicinity. They looked unhappy about it. The station chief sent a junior officer with me and my translator to store with the camera, on the street of the incident. The operator came out and said, “I found it!” and the police officer joined him in the room, without allowing me to join. But when the officer emerged he claimed he saw nothing. I continued to wrangle them to allow me to file a police report for insurance purposes. They finally allowed me to file it but refused to give me a copy. This ordeal with the police took five hours and involved four or five officers and the security team at the store. If the police are willing to spend so much energy trying to hide the crime instead of fighting it, it seems unlikely that more cameras will help significantly.

  • Keith Hancock

    Not great Walker is it? I suppose all we can do is keep pushing and reporting and hope things change. I am definitely going to buy a helmet camera so when I am out on my bike at least I will have the filmed evidence.

  • Skeptic McGee

    What are cameras going to do for crime in a city where everyone wears a helmet and a face mask? It’s not too hard to cover a license plate while driving either. I’m guessing this is a weak attempt by the police to look like they’re doing something. If the police would like to prove me wrong, maybe they should pay a visit to the area of 23/9 park where the heroin addicts shoot up in broad daylight, instead of just wandering around the nicer section by Cho Ben Thanh.