Auckland Transport continues to ramp up its high-tech surveillance.
As the Herald reported earlier this week, the council agency is going to install new cameras which - in an NZ first - will be able to scan a car's number plate, work out if it belongs to a resident with a permit and, if not, capture an image of the car's surroundings, such as street markings and trees, its position on GPS, and the exact position of the air valves on its tyres do defeat chalk-scuffers.
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It's part of a $4.5m rollout of up to 8000 cameras for various uses, which will also see police gain real-time access to footage taken by Auckland Transport cams for the first time.
Overall, some will see it as more Big Brother than ever. But there was one small win, of sorts, for those who campaign against tighter surveillance.
AT did not go with its incumbent, Chinese company Hikvision, instead punting for cameras from Swedish company Axis Communications, which developed networked surveillance camera technology in partnership with IBM. Axis is generally more expensive than its Chinese rival's, according to several trade reports, but which comes without the political baggage.
In March last year, as the New York Times reported that Hikvision would join Huawei on the US government's export blacklist within weeks (a story that proved correct), AT defended its use of Hikvision cameras.
Where Huawei has been accused of espionage, Hikvision has allegedly colluded with the Chinese government on the repression of Muslim minorities.
Hikvision had been "implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups" in northwest China's Xinjiang region," US Commerce Department said in a statement.
The ban was supported by President Donald Trump, but initiated by Democrats in the House of Representatives. In August last year, on-top of the export ban (which went into effect in October), an order went out preventing US Federal agencies from using Hikvision gear.
A spokesman for Hikvsion told the Wall Street Journal his company strongly opposed the American decision and that the firm "respects human rights and takes our responsibility to protect people in the US and the world seriously."
An Auckland Transport spokesman told the Herald last year, "Auckland Transport uses 1725 Hikvision cameras for CCTV across the transport network at bus stations, rail stations, ferry wharves, road intersections and parking buildings to manage our operations and for safety reasons".
"AT does not use Hikvision's facial recognition or licence plate recognition technology or any of its other tracking technology.
"AT's use of Hikvision cameras is restricted to closed secure networks that are not able to connect to the internet, therefore there is no threat of any breach. The use of Hikvision cameras is not under review by Auckland Transport."
Agencies higher up the food chain could review it, but MBIE has the complication that it uses Hikvision cameras itself (which is the subject of an internal review.
So why did Auckland Transport move away from Hikvision for its latest camera project?
Did geopolitical factors weigh?
A spokesman would say only that Hikvision was judged to have the best solution after the parking camera initiative was put out to tender.