Hikvision's Minority Analytics

By: John Honovich, Published on May 08, 2018

Hikvision has developed and is deploying minority analytics inside China, automatically identifying and categorizing individuals as ethnic minorities. While Hikvision has not marketed this, IPVM has verified this from information disclosed in the company's 'AI Cloud World Summit'.

In this note, we examine the technical approach, concerns about accuracy as well as abuse of minorities by the Chinese government-owned manufacturer's analytics.

Minority Analytics

Hikvision demonstrated their AI cloud system as part of a case study for the Mount Tai Tourist Area, with the system categorizing people as ethnic minorities (少数民族) or not, as shown in the example below: 

The categorization is a true or false (boolean) and does not attempt to categorize by a specific ethnic group. In the West, this would often be assumed to be white or black, but in the context of China, this is most likely Han Chinese or not.

Declined Comment

Hikvision corporate acknowledged our questions on this topic but declined comment.

Update: Hikvision removed the video, attempting to cover up the claims after our report resulted in International news outlets picking up the story.

Vote / Poll

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Mistakes / Issues

In the same case study, for the same person, the Hikvision system incorrectly identifies the person as not wearing glasses:

While Hikvision's DeepInMind performance problems are confirmed, it is still surprising that Hikvision's own marketing materials would showcase such an obvious error.

Additionally, the system categorized this person as a male but this is not clear:

Moreover, in that same case study, Hikvision showed which faces were being captured and analyzed, showing many heavily shadowed and captured at a harsh angle.

Despite that, they claim (as the text above shows) that they can track specific visitors, which is hard to believe when they cannot even correctly identify glasses on a person in their own marketing demo.

These examples from a video case study on Hikvision's website, excerpted in the clip below:

Minority Analytics Technical Possible

Minority/ethnicity analytics are certainly technically possible, though, of course, how accurate is one question. However, they are not widely promoted and, in the video surveillance space, Hikvision is the only manufacturer we have seen offering them. One outside the industry example is from a company named Kairos who is using this to celebrate diversity with online ethnic analysis, such as the example below:

Risk Abuse Of Minorities

Probably the biggest reason that ethnicity analytics are avoided is the risk of using them to abuse minorities. Inside China, the most notable concern for such abuse are with the Uighurs, an ethnic minority in Xinjiang Province (recall this is where Dahua and Hikvision have recently won over $1 billion in projects) who the Chinese government has prioritized suppressing. And, as the Chinese government-owned and controlled video surveillance manufacturer, Hikvision is a key force in enforcing such tactics.

Hikvision Unlikely To Release In US or EU

Given Hikvision is aware of the significant privacy and political problems of using ethnicity analytics in the West, we doubt they will release this in the US or EU. However, Hikvision USA's VP of Sales touted ethnicity analytics last year in a US security conference so it is not out of the question.

10 reports cite this report:

Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Dec 02, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
Hikvision Markets Uyghur Ethnicity Analytics, Now Covers Up on Nov 11, 2019
Hikvision has marketed an AI camera that automatically identifies Uyghurs, on its China website, only covering it up days ago after IPVM questioned...
"Automated Racism": Chinese Tech Companies Profiling Ethnic Minority on Apr 26, 2019
Scrutiny of Chinese facial recognition providers, including Hikvision, has sharply increased following a New York Times report that they developed...
9 UK MPs Call Out Hikvision Over Human Rights Violations on Mar 26, 2019
A group of nine MPs in the UK has released a letter calling out Hikvision for its surveillance deals in Xinjiang and Tibet, alleging Hikvision...
Massive Leak Of Chinese VMS Provider Exposes Xinjiang Surveillance on Feb 20, 2019
A subsidiary of China’s claimed largest VMS provider is tracking the precise location and ethnicity of millions in China’s Xinjiang region,...
Chinese Government Blocks IPVM on Oct 22, 2018
IPVM has been blocked by the Chinese government without any notice or explanation. This means IPVM.com is no longer officially accessible anywhere...
Australia and French National TV Investigate Hikvision, Australia Military To Remove Hikvision Cameras on Sep 12, 2018
An Australian National TV investigation on Chinese video surveillance has put a spotlight on Hikvision, including a promise from Australia's...
2018 Mid-Year Surveillance Industry Guide on Jun 28, 2018
2018 has been an explosive year for the video surveillance industry, with the industry becoming a global political issue, with the expansion of...
Hikvision Covers Up Racial Profiling And AI Error on Jun 25, 2018
Faced with global scrutiny, led by the US government-funded Voice of America (VOA), Hikvision has covered up evidence showing their racial...
The Hikvision Smart Classroom Behavior Management System on May 22, 2018
Hikvision's rapidly growing offering of analytics, which we most recently examined with Hikvision's ethnic minority analytics, is now going into...
Comments (65) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Bosch Budget 3000i Cameras Tested on Dec 05, 2019
Bosch has long had a hole in its lineup for, as it describes, "competitively-priced cameras". Now, Bosch has released its 3000i series cameras...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Dec 02, 2019
Hikvision has received the most global news reporting of any video surveillance company, ever, ranging from the WSJ, the Financial Times, Reuters,...
China Uyghur Analytic Projects Require Intel And NVIDIA, Intel Condemns, NVIDIA Silent on Dec 02, 2019
At least 8 PRC China police projects require NVIDIA and Intel chips to power their Uyghur-detecting analytics, according to procurement documents...
Directory of Access Reader Manufacturers on Nov 27, 2019
Credential Readers are one of the most visible and noticeable parts of access systems, but installers often stick with only the brand they always...
Wyze AI Analytics Tested - Beats Axis and Hikvision, Now Improved, Now Being Terminated on Nov 25, 2019
When we originally tested Wyze's free person detection deep learning analytics in July 2019, they performed well, with few false alarms, but a long...
China Government Spreads Uyghur Analytics Across China on Nov 25, 2019
IPVM has found 12 recent government projects across China (PRC) that require Uyghur analytics and a general government guideline requiring such...
Top 2020 Trend - AI Analytics on Nov 22, 2019
170+ Integrators answered: What do you think will be the top industry trend in 2020? Why? For the 4th year in a row, AI/video analytics was...
ISC East 2019 Show Report on Nov 21, 2019
IPVM has finished in New York City covering both days of the ISC East 2019 show. Here is a 6+ minute general walkthrough: Inside this report,...
The Cowardly, Greedy "Leaders" of Video Surveillance - SIA on Nov 19, 2019
The video surveillance industry suffers from cowardly, greedy 'leaders' focused on maximizing easy money while undermining public trust. The...
Top Manufacturers Gaining and Losing 2019 on Nov 18, 2019
2019 has been an explosive year for video surveillance, with the world's two largest manufacturers, Dahua and Hikvision, being sanctioned for human...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Disruptor Wyze Releases Undisruptive Smartlock on Dec 06, 2019
While Wyze has disrupted the consumer IP camera market with ~$20 cameras, its entrance into smart locks is entirely undisruptive. We have...
Bosch Budget 3000i Cameras Tested on Dec 05, 2019
Bosch has long had a hole in its lineup for, as it describes, "competitively-priced cameras". Now, Bosch has released its 3000i series cameras...
Anixter Resisting Takeover From Competitor on Dec 05, 2019
Mega distributor Anixter is going to be acquired but by whom? Initially, Anixter planned to go private, being bought by a private equity firm....
Security Sales Course 2020 - Last Chance Save $50 on Dec 05, 2019
This sales course is customized for the current needs and challenges specific to professionals selling video surveillance and access control...
Ireland National Children's Hospital Chooses Hikvision End-to-End With Facial Recognition on Dec 05, 2019
The world's most expensive hospital project ever, the New Children's Hospital in Ireland, has chosen an all-Hikvision surveillance system including...
AVTech ~$70 IP Cameras Tested Vs Dahua and Hikvision on Dec 04, 2019
Taiwanese manufacturer Avtech is taking direct aim at low cost leaders Dahua and Hikvision with ~$70 starlight and white light illuminator...
Ultinous European Analytics Startup Company Profile on Dec 04, 2019
European analytics-startup Ultinous pitches customers to "Have your own video analysis service!" We spoke to Ultinous to better understand their...
Access Startup Multi-Mount Aims To Streamline Reader Installs on Dec 03, 2019
Startup Multi-Mount claims it makes installing access readers 'Fast', 'Secure,' and fit 'any size frame.' The company states its bracket 'fits most...
Resideo CEO To Step Down on Dec 03, 2019
Resideo's CEO, Mike Nefkins, is stepping down, just 18 months after being brought in to lead the now plagued spin-out. Inside this note, we...
Arcules CEO Retracts False GDPR Claim + Dahua and Milestone Claims Examined on Dec 03, 2019
Arcules CEO has retracted a false claim about his organization being a "fully compliant GDPR company" after IPVM reporting (Arcules CEO Threatens...