India’s plan to build World’s Largest Facial Recognition system by 2020

CCTV Surveillance

India is the fastest-growing country in the world and its increasing population has now started becoming its own challenge to keep it at the same pace and remain as the fastest-growing country. As the number of people in the nation is increasing so is the law enforcement in the country is decreasing which reports that India has only 144 police officers for every 100,000 citizens, compared to 318 per 100,000 citizens in the European Union.

The Unnamed Surveillance Project

To tackle this huge gap India has taken a huge step to what it’s called to be the “largest facial recognition system in the world” as reported by CNN. The National Crime Records Bureau of India has published a tender that requested companies around the world to bid for the project and submit it until October 11. The 172-page published document displays the country’s vision for the unnamed project.

The tendered document shows that the project would match images from the country’s growing network of CCTV cameras against a database encompassing mug shots of criminals, passport photos and images collected by agencies such as the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It will also allow searches based on photos uploaded from newspapers, images sent in by the public or artist sketches of suspected criminals. It would also recognize faces on closed-circuit cameras and “generate alerts if a blacklist match is found,”.

It also explains that a dedicated app will also be built that will be used by officers in the field using handheld devices and provide real-time or instantaneous searches for face in the national database.

If implemented properly with taking care of the privacy of the citizens it would play an important role in the future of law enforcement in the country and possibly lead to decreasing crimes and enhance the ability in identifying criminals, missing persons, and bodies.

Crimes in India

Currently, the crime rate in the country is very high specially in cities and urban areas. In 2016 according to the official reports, there were 709.1 offenses recorded per 100,000 people in 19 big cities which is almost twice the number to the national average of 379.3.

Also Read: China’s Big Brother Surveillance System

Foreign Companies in National Surveillance Project

It has been noted that about 80 representatives of vendors participated in the pre-bid meeting in NCRB’s Delhi office at the end of July this year. To be eligible to make a bid the companies must have at least three facial recognition systems running globally which disqualifies most companies in India.

The successful bidder will most likely be an alliance between a foreign company and a local company, another eligibility requirement is that the company must be based in India.

According to Sivarama Krishnan, who is the lead of cybersecurity at PricewaterhouseCoopers India, companies like IBM (IBM), Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Accenture (ACN) have shown interest in the project.


Such a huge project has to be set up in less than eight months as per the document which makes it really challenging to be done in such a timeframe. A time period of 12 to 18 months seems more realistic which makes the project “technologically challenging” says Krishnan.

India already has a National Database that is updated regularly by state agencies, so the new project will be easy to set up and linking to the database, the hard stuff is setting up Facial Recognition enabled CCTV cameras in the country.

New Delhi. the capital city of India has just 10 CCTV cameras per 1,000 people as compared with 113 in Shanghai and 68 in London, according to data compiled by consumer website Comparitech. The number is much lower in rural areas where 66% of people live in the country while some don’t even have a single surveillance camera.

No Data Protection Law

India does not have a data protection law and the new Facial Recognition project also doesn’t follow up any trail which could lead to implementing any such law in the nation soon.

It might be linked up with Adhaar, India’s biometric database with personal data of more than 1.2 billion citizens of the country which in early 2018 suffered a breach where it was reported that personal details of the citizens were available to purchase for as low as $8.

It will be tough for the country to enable this type of surveillance system with updating its policies and protecting the data of its citizens.

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