“Xinjiang,” Vanessa says calmly, “is a powder keg waiting to explode. It’s crucial we monitor the Uyghurs because if left unchecked, they could easily spread unrest to the rest of China like a contagion, sending the whole country spiraling into chaos.”
“Exactly,” Alan agrees, “in the past three months alone, we’ve already contained two bouts of arson against public property, two meetings that nearly grew into protests, and one violent knife attack during Sunday morning market in the Shuimogou District.”
He looks at me pointedly. “All thanks to our ‘monster-science-project-thing’ as you say.”
“So your solution is to monitor every single one of your citizens 24/7 in real-time?” Coleman asks in disbelief. “Are you insane?”
I hold up my hand. “Alright, wait. Catch a breath, everyone.” I turn to Vanessa and Alan. “How accurate is this representation you’ve built? What data are you accessing?”
“If you’re asking about latency,” says Alan, “it’s about four minutes behind right now. Everything you see on the board happened roughly four minutes ago in the past. We’re obviously trying to shorten that lag. But with the sheer magnitude of data at this distance, over 7G and fiber, we’re kinda hitting the limits of physics.”
“You’re using 7G wireless in Ürümqi to collect all of the IoT signals within the city, processing and compressing onsite, and then fibering all that out, right?” asks Katherine. Her earlier anger seems to have subsided a little, curiosity apparently winning out over indignation, at least for the moment.
“That’s generally correct,” says Alan. He glances at Chopra and Coleman and sees only blank stares. This may all as well be Greek to them. “I can, uh, walk anyone interested through the data architecture later in finer detail if you wish.”
Chopra may not know what’s technically going on, but he gets the gist. “So basically,” he says, “there’s no individual privacy in Ürümqi. This… device lets you track all Uyghur whereabouts in the capital constantly, around the clock… if they’re at home or en route to work or eating out, etcetera. Right?”
Alan and Vanessa exchange glances. Vanessa nods. “Show them.”
Sighing, Alan reaches over and grabs a tablet that’s on the table, tethered to the board, and begins tapping on it.
In the 3D holo-city-model, three dozen or so of the little pedestrian figurines suddenly tint vermillion. And all of the remaining figurines fade to maybe 20% opacity.
“Additionally, here shaded in red are all persons of interest,” says Vanessa. “On these people we possess significantly more surveillance.”
Alan taps a few more times on his tablet and a new holo-projection springs to life above the dome.