Closed-circuit cameras monitor social distancing in Da Nang

By Nguyen Dong   August 21, 2021 | 05:00 am PT
Closed-circuit cameras monitor social distancing in Da Nang
Nguyen Van Loc watches camera feeds on a smartphone to monitor residents during a Covid-19 social distancing order in Da Nang, August 19, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong
Thousands of surveillance cameras have been deployed to manage Covid social distancing in Da Nang City.

Nguyen Van Loc, a cell secretary for the Phuoc An 4 neighborhood of Phuoc Ninh Ward, Hai Chau District, turned on three cameras Thursday afternoon to keep watch over sections of Le Dinh Duong Street.

"Now there's no need to go out and monitor. Just watch the cameras, and upon seeing people leaving their homes, remind them of the social distancing order via the neighborhood Zalo group," the 61-year-old said.

The Phuoc An 4 neighborhood has five other cameras to keep watch over the area. For the last four days, residents have stayed inside diligently, said Loc.

In 2016, Da Nang mobilized its resources and called for citizens to install cameras for monitoring. The cameras in Loc's neighborhood were installed thanks to over VND23 million ($1,007) contributed by the community with support from authorities.

Loc said the cameras have been useful to monitor the neighborhood during the pandemic. Only certain personnel from local authorities are allowed access to the cameras, granting them the ability to keep watch 24/7 without having to step outside.

"Especially when it's dark, we can watch every nook and cranny of the area," Loc said, adding that besides the cameras, the local Covid-19 taskforce also has patrol teams to guard "safe zones," not allowing anyone to enter the neighborhood to prevent infections.

About 500 meters away, another Covid-19 checkpoint of a neighborhood on Trung Nu Vuong Street, Binh Hien Ward also utilizes surveillance cameras. Some people got out of their houses and got caught on camera, prompting authorities to remind them to socially distance.

Nguyen Van My, 59, head of the neighborhood, said the local Covid-19 taskforce has been monitoring the streets from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., every day starting Aug. 16. When essential goods need to be delivered to households, the Covid-19 taskforce also helps while monitoring the situation, reminding people to stay put inside their homes.

"Between 8:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. the next day, we use the cameras to monitor all 73 families living in the neighborhood," said My, adding local police forces can also access the feed to provide support if needed.

On Wednesday afternoon, the cameras on Nguyen Huu Than Street of Thanh Khe District captured a man riding a bicycle out of his house. The info was immediately relayed to the Zalo group of the neighborhood management board. Within minutes, the man had been determined a resident taking refuge in the neighborhood.

"He often rides his bike across neighborhoods to collect scrap. We have sent people to his apartment to remind him of the social distancing order, and warned that he would be reported to police if he violates the order again," said Cong Khanh, a member of the neighborhood sub-quarter.

Phan Minh Man, the police chief of Son Tra District, said there are over 1,600 surveillance cameras distributed across the district. Combined with Covid-19 checkpoints and 24/7 patrols, the cameras are invaluable tools for authorities to monitor citizens, preventing them from going out.

"In general, people abide by the city's policies. The streets have been empty according to the camera feeds. Son Tra District has yet to detect anyone going out unnecessarily as evident through the camera systems watching over roads and neighborhoods," he said.

Da Nang's surveillance camera system has been in use for five years. Harsh weather conditions have damaged several of them however.

"We are making a proposal to maintain camera systems. We hope the city would support us so the system could operate smoothly during the pandemic," Man said.

Da Nang has recorded 2,547 local Covid-19 cases since the fourth coronavirus wave hit Vietnam in late April. The city has applied a strict social distancing order starting Aug. 16 and expected to last until Aug. 26 that requires people to remain in their homes at all times, with only those transporting essential goods or fighting Covid allowed out.

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