CCTV illustration. - Patrice Magnien / 20 Minutes

  • Huawei has provided Valenciennes with a video surveillance system free of charge.
  • The aim was to experiment in France with the Chinese giant's “Safe city” project.
  • More than 200 smart cameras have been installed in this city since 2017.

Poisoned gift ? In early February 2017, the city of Valenciennes, in the North, signed an agreement with the Chinese new technology giant Huawei. The text provided that the firm would deliver "217 new generation cameras" to modernize video protection to the city in exchange for ... nothing, or almost. At the time, Huawei and Valenciennes spoke of "making the city a technological, safe and trusted showcase".

It is the town hall of Valenciennes which made the first step by contacting the Chinese company to notify it of its interest for the establishment of the project “safe city” on the territory of the commune “on an experimental basis”. A golden opportunity for Huawei, which had never yet deployed this intelligent video surveillance device in France. In exchange for this showcase for its technology, Huawei made available to Valenciennes, "free of charge", 217 cameras, two video servers and supervision software. There is even a maintenance contract which allows the company remote access to the system, however subject to the authorization of the town hall, is it written in the agreement signed by the two parties that 20 Minutes was able to consult.

"This technology is made to control the population"

The documentary of France 5, "Who's afraid of Huawei", one wonders among other things on the intrusive and liberticidal side of the "safe city" project, widely deployed in China and which allows the regime to use facial recognition. "This technology is made to control the population," says in the documentary James Andrew Lewis, technology expert at CSIS.

Participating in the International Cybersecurity Forum (FIC) in Lille on Wednesday, Huawei recognized Valenciennes as a "pilot site" for its new cameras, claiming, however, that it only provided the equipment and not a complete video protection solution. On site, we were even told that the deployed cameras could not tell the difference between a human being and a vehicle and that there was even less question of facial recognition.

Smart cameras

“Technically, it is possible today. All you need is high-resolution cameras, a computer and an artificial intelligence algorithm, ”explains an expert from the Center for Innovation in Contactless Technologies (Citc), present at the FIC, at 20 Minutes . In short, everything that Valenciennes already has. The three types of cameras installed have intelligent analysis functions to identify the behavior of vehicles and people ...

However, the big brother cannot be satisfied with an algorithm. "You have to train artificial intelligence with a lot of data to allow facial recognition," says the CITC expert. This implies, for example, a connection between the system and government databases. "In the state of the legislation, this is not possible in France", underlines the CNIL. Moreover, to our colleagues from the Voix du Nord , the mayor of Valenciennes, Laurent Degallaix, assured that the law “is fully respected. "


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  • Huawei
  • security
  • Valenciennes
  • Video surveillance
  • Camera