HIKVISION EYEING GLOBAL DOMINANCE
It is likely that you have seen a Hikvision camera at some point, even if you have never heard of them. By 2017 the company had 12% of the North American market. In the UK they have been utilised in half of the major cities, including London. In 2019, the company produced nearly a quarter of the world’s surveillance cameras. The dominance of Hikvision cameras is best shown through a recent search for the cameras using a tool called Shodan, which locates internet-connected devices. The search returned nearly 5-million results, with more than 750,000 devices located in the US.
For American redistributors, Hikvision offers massive discounts and as a result have supplied cameras to US Air Force Bases as well as US embassies in Ukraine and Afghanistan. More than 90 US companies relabelled the cameras with their own branding, and as a result when Congress ordered federal agencies to remove the Hikvision Cameras by 2019 it was difficult to locate them all. Originally a Chinese state entity, the company still maintains strong links to the government, with fully state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) being Hikvision’s largest shareholder. Generous state support combined with low-cost international sales has cemented Hikvision’s place as a heavyweight in global surveillance. Hikvision have supported many divisive policies within China, amongst these is the crackdown against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other minority groups in the western province of Xinjiang.
Following reports of their role in the Xinjiang camps in 2018, the company released their first environmental, social, and governance report, highlighting the role of video surveillance products in human rights violations. In a more socially conscious world, they will need to take this responsibility more seriously.
With improving broadband speeds combined with falling costs of processors and sensors, more homes are buying into connected appliances, such as washing machines, televisions and even toasters. It is estimated that by 2030 there will be 500 billion all internet connected devices. This reinforces Hikvision’s desire to become a global leader in surveillance