Chinese Government Builds Far-Reaching, Allegedly Corrupt, Surveillance System in Ecuador

Author: Charles Rollet, Published on Mar 13, 2018

Thousands of Chinese security cameras, including many made by Huawei, are watching Ecuadorians around the clock thanks to an integrated emergency response system designed and built by a Chinese state-owned company accused of massively overcharging for its work.

ECU 911 Overview

The Chinese government loaned Ecuador $240 million in 2012 to build a modern 911-style service dubbed ECU 911. The system now has 4,145 cameras and 16 response centers across the country and recently made headlines after Chinese state media said it helped reduce Ecuador’s crime rate.

ECU 911’s cameras have been credited countless times for helping police nab bank robbers, assault suspects, and many others. In the capital of Quito alone, ECU 911 receives some 3,000 calls a day.

But while ECU 911 may have substantially improved Ecuador’s domestic security, it’s not been without controversy.

Corruption Allegations

The Chinese state-owned firm which built ECU 911 and supplied it with its cameras, hardware, and software was accused of large-scale overcharging by Ecuador’s comptroller.

The China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation or CEIEC is a subsidiary of major defense contractor Chinese Electronics Corporation and was the driving force behind ECU 911.

Last year, local media reported that CEIEC and Chinese construction firm CAMC made over $32m worth of entirely unjustified expenses during ECU 911’s construction. It was also reported that some of the projects were shoddily built as a result.

Ecuador’s current interior minister, who supervised ECU 911’s development at the time, said in January that he had fulfilled the comptroller’s recommendations and denied the existence of a report that assigned criminal responsibility to those who oversaw the project.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Ecuadorian media outlet La Posta had claimed that the report existed but mysteriously disappeared from the Comptroller’s Office. As of now, there are no public indication that a criminal case has been opened.

Running the ECU 911

What is clear is that China and Ecuador cooperate closely in running ECU 911. Some 20 Chinese engineers at the headquarters in Quito work “day and night to ensure this life-saving system runs well,” Xinhua reported.

China hasn’t shied away from heavily promoting its investment, either. President Xi Jinping visited the HQ in Quito in 2016 to inaugurate a lab financed by a $10m Chinese loan.

The lab is a joint Chinese-Ecuadorian operation with employees from both countries. An ECU 911 official told Xinhua that two ECU 911 delegations had traveled to China to learn from the country’s surveillance methods. Another Ecuadorian official told Xinhua the lab was working with “Chinese video cameras” to explore the possibility of using intelligent video analysis.

Results of ECU 911

Such extensive cooperation appears to have achieved results.

The lab has already implemented a mobile device tracking program to help find missing people, according to Xinhua, while the South China Morning Post reported earlier this year that ECU 911 has successfully used facial recognition technology in Ecuador’s two largest airports of Quito and Guayaquil and in the city of Cuenca.

Camera Manufacturers Include Huawei

It is unclear exactly which company or companies produce the actual cameras used by ECU 911. However, it appears many of them are made by Huawei.

An ECU 911 document on the Ecuadorian government’s official public expenditures website shows the program bought 225 Huawei IPC6625-Z30 PTZ domes in 2016 for slightly over $3,500 each.

Another ECU 911 document shows 68 Huawei cameras installed at the Ministry of Education in the city of Machala.

There are several other examples of public expenditure documents indicating that ECU 911 has purchased at least hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cameras, servers, and other equipment from Huawei.

In March 2017, an Ecuadorian business journal wrote that Huawei “developed the technology of public institutions like ECU 911.” Huawei also has an office in Quito.

No Indication Of Dahua Or Hikvision In System

There’s no indication that other major Chinese surveillance manufacturers like Hikvision and Dahua cameras are being used for ECU 911; neither are mentioned in ECU 911’s publicly-available expenditure records. CEIEC has, however, considered buying cameras from those manufacturers before: a tender document on CEIEC’s website lists Hikvision and Dahua as finalists for a 2014 contract to supply surveillance equipment to a major bank in China.

China Companies Benefit

Regardless, CEIEC, Huawei, and other Chinese companies stand to benefit hugely from China’s increasing competition with the US over influence in Latin America. Besides Ecuador, China has exported its considerable surveillance prowess to countries like Bolivia, which received a $105m Chinese loan in 2016 for another wide-ranging surveillance project.

There’s little sign China is slowing down its ambitions in the region. Earlier this year, China invited Latin America to participate in its ambitious One Belt, One Road project.

In a press release, CEIEC said it was building projects similar to ECU 911 in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Trinidad and Tobago. “ECU 911 is a successful example of ‘going global’ in China’s informatization capabilities,” the release stated.

ECU 911 did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Comments (8) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on China

China Is Not A Security Megatrend, Says SIA on Oct 19, 2018
The US Security Industry Association has released its 10 "Security Megatrends" for 2019. SIA declares that these megatrends, such as "Advanced...
"New Zealand Govt Uses Chinese Cameras Banned In US", Considers Security Audit on Oct 12, 2018
Newsroom NZ has issued a report: "NZ Govt uses Chinese cameras banned in US": This comes after the US federal government banned purchases of...
Honeywell Hides Selling US Gov Banned Chinese Video Surveillance on Oct 10, 2018
Honeywell hides selling US government banned Chinese video surveillance as their own 'Honeywell' products, deceiving buyers and putting US security...
IP Camera Installability Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Oct 08, 2018
What are the best and worst cameras from an installation standpoint? Which manufacturers make it harder or easier to install their cameras? We...
China Hacks Video Servers Causing Uproar on Oct 05, 2018
An incident causing an international uproar is hitting home in the video surveillance industry as a Bloomberg report, "The Big Hack: How China...
US Commerce Department Considers Sanctions Over Companies Profiting From Xinjiang on Oct 04, 2018
The US Commerce Department is considering its own sanctions for businesses alleged to be enabling repression in the Chinese region of Xinjiang...
Evidence Of Hikvision's Involvement With Xinjiang IJOP And Re-Education Camps on Oct 02, 2018
IPVM reveals as-yet unreported details about Hikvision’s activities in Xinjiang - a region of China where massive human rights abuses are being...
4MP Camera Shootout - Axis, Dahua, DW, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Sep 24, 2018
4MP usage continues to climb, especially for low cost fixed lens models. To see who was best, we bought and tested seven 4MP models from Axis,...
SIA Plays Dumb On OEMs And Hikua Ban on Sep 20, 2018
OEMs widely pretend to be 'manufacturers', deceiving their customers and putting them at risk for cybersecurity attacks and, soon, violation of US...
25% China Tariffs Finalized For 2019, 10% Start Now, Includes Select Video Surveillance on Sep 18, 2018
A surprise move: In July, when the most recent tariff round was first announced, the tariffs were only scheduled for 10%. However, now, the US...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Startup SafePass Profile on Oct 19, 2018
A major problem with visitor management is that the systems mostly require adhesive printed paper labels and paper logs, creating waste and an...
China Is Not A Security Megatrend, Says SIA on Oct 19, 2018
The US Security Industry Association has released its 10 "Security Megatrends" for 2019. SIA declares that these megatrends, such as "Advanced...
Hanwha Dual Imager Dome Camera Tested (PNM-7000VD) on Oct 18, 2018
Hanwha has introduced their first dual-imager model, the PNM-7000VD, a twin 1080p model featuring independently positionable sensors and a snap-in...
Camera Height / Blind Spot Added to IPVM Camera Calculator on Oct 18, 2018
IPVM has added camera height and blind spot estimation to the Camera Calculator. This is especially helpful for those who need to mount cameras up...
Axis Strong US Growth, Flat EMEA - Q3 2018 Financials on Oct 18, 2018
This spring, Axis had its best financials in many years (see Axis Strong Q2 2018 Results). However, over the summer, Axis had many products sold...
Best Alternatives to Banned Dahua and Hikvision on Oct 17, 2018
With the US government ban and a growing number of users banning Dahua and Hikvision, one key question is what to use for low cost? While Dahua and...
Video Quality / Compression Tutorial on Oct 17, 2018
While CODECs, like H.264, H.265, and MJPEG, get a lot of attention, a camera's 'quality' or compression setting has a big impact on overall...
Knightscope Winning Investors, Struggling With Growth on Oct 16, 2018
While Knightscope's new financials show the company only winning 11 new customers in the past 12 months, the company continues to win new...
Integrator Laptop Guide on Oct 16, 2018
This 18-page guide provides guidance and statistics about integrator laptop use. 150 integrators explained to IPVM in detail about their laptops,...
Huawei Admits AI "Bubble" on Oct 16, 2018
A fascinating article from the Chinese government's Global Times: Huawei’s AI ambition to reshape industries. While the Global Times talks about...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact