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.

11 reports cite this report:

Facial Recognition 101 on Mar 18, 2020
Facial recognition interest, use and fear is increasing. This guide aims to teach you the fundamentals of facial recognition. Inside we...
Hikvision Global News Reports Directory on Jan 17, 2020
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) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

The 2020 Video Surveillance Industry Guide on Dec 20, 2019
The 300-page, 2020 Video Surveillance Industry Guide covers the key events and the future of the video surveillance market, is now available, group...
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...
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...
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...
Dahua Celebrates PRC 70th Wearing Communist Party Hammer and Sickle on Oct 11, 2019
Dahua celebrated the PRC's 70th anniversary with a video of various Dahua employees wearing China Communist Party hammer and sickle pins as shown...
Critiquing Carnegie's AI Surveillance Paper on Sep 25, 2019
The Carnegie Endowment has issued an ambitious paper on the Global Expansion of AI Surveillance. While its aim is applaudable, the paper has...
IFSEC Report: US Ban Hurting Hikvision In Europe on Sep 04, 2019
Prominent UK publication IFSEC Global has issued a new report finding that US bans are impacting the purchase of 'Chinese' products, most notably...
NSA Director Keynoting Dahua and Hikvision Sponsored Cybersecurity Conference [Canceled] on Jun 13, 2019
The technical director for the NSA’s Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center will be keynoting a physical security cybersecurity conference that is...
Hikvision VP On Muslim Oppression on May 14, 2019
Hikvision has won tens of millions of dollars, at least, in direct contracts with the Chinese government that oppresses Muslims, including a forced...
"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...

Most Recent Industry Reports

EyePark Presents Mobile Driver Authentication on Jun 05, 2020
EyePark presented its long-range QR code parking verification platform at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from EyePark...
Bleenco "Under The Tongue" Temperature Detection Examined on Jun 05, 2020
"Say aah", says Bleenco, a PPE detection video analytics company, offering a different method for measuring body temperature with a thermal...
Hikvision and Uniview Entry Level Thermal Handheld Cameras Tested on Jun 05, 2020
While most screening systems cost $10,000 or more, manufacturers such as Hikvision and Uniview have now released handheld models for $1,000 or...
Sequr Presents HID based Cloud Access Control on Jun 04, 2020
Sequr presented HID based Cloud Access Control at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from Sequr...
VergeSense Presents People Tracking Sensor on Jun 04, 2020
VergeSense presented its people tracking sensor and social distancing insights at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from...
FLIR A Series Temperature Screening Cameras Tested on Jun 04, 2020
FLIR is one of the biggest names in thermal and one of the most conservative. While rivals have marketed fever detection, FLIR has stuck to EST...
"Fever Camera" Show On-Demand Watch Now on Jun 03, 2020
IPVM has successfully completed the world's first "Fever Camera" show. Recordings from Both days are posted at the end of this report for on-demand...
Cobalt Robotics Presents Indoor Security and Access Robots on Jun 03, 2020
Cobalt Robotics presented indoor security robots at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video from Cobalt...
Dahua Sues Ex-North American President, Says Legal Typo on Jun 03, 2020
Dahua's former North American President Frank Zhang claims he is owed almost $11 million but Dahua counter claims it is just a "scrivener's error",...
Smart Entry Systems Presents Cloud Multi-Tenant Access Control on Jun 02, 2020
Smart Entry Systems presented Cloud Multi-Tenant Access Control at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. Inside this report: A 30-minute video...