How Many Surveillance Cameras Are in Your City?

Technology advancements have certainly helped society. But they no doubt have their downsides. One gray area is the increased use of CCTV or closed-circuit television cameras in most major cities around the world.

Of course, surveillance cameras have their benefits. They help deter and solve crimes and even mitigate traffic. While some aspects of CCTVs are intended to make the world a safer place, privacy activists worry about allowing police unfettered access to footage of our daily lives feels invasive. Whether you’re of the opinion that increased surveillance keeps us safe or you’re against the watchful eye of CCTVs, you should know where your city stands on the matter. A couple of cities have nearly three million surveillance cameras while others have significantly fewer CCTVs—just 40 cameras or so, which you can find on the map below.

View CCTV Cameras by City in a full screen map

On the map, you’ll see the number of CCTVs in 120 of the world’s most populated cities. The data is from Comparitech, which they also conveniently offered in the form of a spreadsheet. Sort the map by the number of CCTV cameras, the population, and then the number of CCTV cameras per 1,000 people or let us highlight our findings of the cities with the most and least surveillance below.

Cities With the Most Surveillance

More surveillance means easier to solve crimes and there are plenty of highly-populated cities around the world with millions of CCTV cameras. Most of them are located in Asia. Without factoring in population, the following 10 cities are the most-watched:

City Country # of CCTV Cameras
Shanghai China 2,985,984
Chongqing China 2,579,890
Shenzhen China 1,929,600
Tianjin China 1,244,160
Beijing China 800,000
Guangzhou China 684,000
London England 627,707
Ji’nan China 540,463
Wuhan China 500,000
New Delhi India 179,000

As the table above depicts, Shanghai, China is the city with the most surveillance. Shanghai has nearly three million cameras scattered around its 2,448 square miles. To put that perspective, the second most-watched city, Chongqing, China, is 31,776 square miles. Shanghai has 400,000 more CCTV cameras than Chongqing, though Shanghai takes up almost 13 times less space. Shanghai must hide cameras in every nook and cranny.

Following Shanghai and Chongqing are four more Chinese cities: Shenzhen, Tianjin, Guangzhou, and the country’s capital, Beijing. All of these cities have over 650,000 cameras, and Shenzhen and Tianjin’s numbers are in the one-millions. The next city is another capital, though this one is the first to be outside of China: London, England. London is the #1 most-watched city in Europe.

And while the following two cities of China and India’s capital, New Delhi, are all located in the same continent of Asia, it’s still notable New Delhi was slotted as #10 given China’s monopoly. In fact, 80% of the top 10 cities are Chinese, so we don’t expect to see China anywhere near the list of cities with the least CCTVs.

Cities With Less of a Watchful Eye

Photo by Scott Webb from Pexels

Not all of the highly-populated cities of the world are equipped with CCTV cameras on every corner. There’s a difference of up to five figures between the cities with the most surveillance and those with the least, as you’ll see on the table below.

City Country # of CCTV Cameras
Reykjavik Iceland 40
Nairobi Kenya 42
Stockholm Sweden 70
Melbourne Australia 93
Belfast Northern Ireland 120
Luxembourg Luxembourg 139
Riyadh Saudi Arabia 150
Kitakyushu Japan 194
Amsterdam The Netherlands 203
San Jose Costa Rica 215

No single country dominates the list of ten cities with the least watchful eye like China did with the most CCTV cameras. However, 50% of the cities on this list are located in Europe. This includes the city with the least amount of CCTV cameras watching its residents and visitors: Reykjavik, Iceland. Reykjavik is home to just 40 surveillance cameras in it’s 106 square miles. Nairobi, Kenya has a similarly small number of surveillance cameras.

Stockholm, Sweden, the country’s capital has a relatively small number of CCTVs for crime deterrence and such. Stockholm’s crime and safety indices are average: 44.48 out of 100 for crime and 55.52 out of 100 for safety.

The other seven cities have just under or just over 100 CCTVs. However, there are several factors that affect how many CCTV cameras a city may need, including population size and crime levels.

How Population Blurs the CCTV Lens

Shanghai, China and Reykjavik, Iceland are notable for being at one end of the extremes when it comes to their number of surveillance cameras. However, once population size is taken into account, things can get blurry. Since we know the number of CCTV cameras and the number of people in each of the following cities, we can also know the number of CCTV cameras per 1,000 people. Let’s see where the cities of Shanghai and Reykjavik fall when we factor in population.

Most CCTVs by Population

While Shanghai has more CCTVs overall, Chongqing, China steals the number one spot from Shanghai based on population. Chongqing is followed by Shenzhen, China, bumping Shanghai to #3 once population is accounted for.

City Country # of CCTV Cameras # of People # of CCTV Cameras per 1,000 People
Chongqing China 2,579,890 15,354,067 168.03
Shenzhen China 1,929,600 12,128,721 159.09
Shanghai China 2,985,984 26,317,104 113.46
Tianjin China 1,244,160 13,396,402 92.87
Ji’nan China 540,463 7,321,200 73.82
London England 627,707 9,176,530 68.40
Wuhan China 500,000 8,266,273 60.49
Guangzhou China 684,000 12,967,862 52.75
Beijing China 800,000 20,035,455 39.93
Atlanta United States 7,800 501,178 15.56

Additionally, whereas before no city in the U.S. made the top ten, Atlanta, Georgia now makes the cut. Previously #46, when population is entered into the equation, it settles in as #10.

Though not in the top 10, the city of Abu Dhabi in the UAE made a significant jump from #31 to #12. Chicago, Illinois, also notably moves from 24 to 13. Plus, even though Tokyo, Japan is the #1 most populated city out of the 120 on the map, it still has relatively few CCTVs: 0.65 per 1,000 people.

Least CCTVs by Population

Nairobi, Kenya replaces Reykjavik as the number one city with the least surveillance when population is taken into account. In fact, Reykjavik now no longer even appears on the top ten list.

City Country # of CCTV Cameras # of People # of CCTV Cameras per 1,000 People
Nairobi Kenya 42 4,556,381 0.01
Melbourne Australia 93 4,870,388 0.02
Riyadh Saudi Arabia 150 7,070,665 0.02
Manila Philippines 300 13,698,889 0.02
Cairo Egypt 500 20,484,965 0.02
Stockholm Sweden 70 1,608,037 0.04
Dhaka Bangladesh 1,000 20,283,552 0.05
Surat India 614 6,873,756 0.09
Brasilia Brazil 453 4,558,991 0.10
Bangalore India 1,301 11,882,666 0.11

Other cities that no longer make the list are Belfast, Luxembourg, Kitakyushu, Amsterdam, and San Jose. Instead, we now see Manila, Cairo, Dhaka, Surat, Brasilia, and Bangalore. Stockholm moves further down the list as Melbourne and Riyadh rise once population is accounted for.

Nearly Every Country’s Most Surveilled City

There are 66 countries represented on the map. Of these, 17 countries are home to multiple cities with lots of CCTVs. Below is a list of the 17 country’s most surveilled cities.

  • China: Shanghai (2,985,984 CCTV cameras)
  • India: New Delhi (179,000; capital)
  • Russia: Moscow (146,000; capital)
  • Australia: Sydney (60,000)
  • South Korea: Seoul (37,883; capital)
  • UAE: Dubai (35,000)
  • United States: Chicago (35,000)
  • France: Paris (33,479; capital)
  • Mexico: Mexico City (26,400; capital)
  • Japan: Tokyo (24,500; capital)
  • Canada: Toronto (14,955)
  • Pakistan: Islamabad (9,950; capital)
  • Italy: *Rome (8,300; capital)
  • Brazil: Salvador (7,300)
  • Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City (6,150)
  • Colombia: Bogotá (4,856; capital)
  • South Africa: Cape Town (1,578; capital)

New Delhi, Moscow, Seoul, Paris, Mexico City, Tokyo, Islamabad, Rome, Bogotá, and Cape Town are the capitals of their respective countries. This makes sense as capitals are often highly populated cities with a need for increased surveillance. However, Shanghai, Sydney, Dubai, Chicago, Toronto, Salvador, and Ho Chi Minh City aren’t the capitals of their countries yet still have the most CCTVs.

Surveillance Data Pops with Custom Base Map Styles

We opted for the dark map style for our CCTV map, which we think fits the topic of surveillance perfectly. When you make your maps with BatchGeo, you have the option to customize your base map styles with the click of a button—no code required. Choose between six map base styles when you make your first custom map at