The dense clouds of smog that sometimes blanket cities in China have myriad ramifications: they close businesses and schools, force residents indoors for days at a time, and are a notorious health hazard. They're reportedly also, as the Chinese government is now acutely aware, a danger to national security.
Extensive networks of surveillance cameras in major Chinese cities are essentially useless during severe bouts of smog, according to a new report from the South China Morning Post. An estimated 20 million cameras have become a pervasive presence in the country, but they can't operate through thick layers of particulate matter that characterize smog pollution. And as smoggy days become more common, authorities reportedly worry that criminal and terror activity will increase.
New security cameras that can cut through all that haze
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean officials are looking to curb pollution levels. Rather, they're funding two research programs to design new security cameras that can cut through all that haze — and looking for solutions within four years. But according to scientists working on the project, it'll be no easy task. "In China, most people think that fog and smog can be dealt by the same method. Our preliminary research shows that the smog particles are quite different from the small water droplets of fog," Professor Yang Aiping told the Post. "We need to heavily revise, if not completely rewrite, algorithms in some mathematical models. We also need to do lots of computer simulation and extensive field tests."