Indian city floats camera-packing surveillance balloon to zoom in on quarantine-quitters

As Prime Minister calls on citizens to inspire adoption of contact-tracing app

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The Indian city of Vadodara has taken a novel technological approach to coronavirus quarantine surveillance by floating a balloon equipped with cameras and a public address system.

Vadodara is home to around two million souls all of whom are currently under strict lockdown orders as India fights to contain the novel coronavirus. So strict that local media reports that locals have been arrested while getting haircuts – and the barber was cuffed too.

One of the city’s solutions to help things along is a tethered balloon that includes cameras and a public address system – plus flashing lights – to help spot and shout at quarantine-evaders.

The balloon seems to be going day and night and floats through the sky flashing blue and red just to make sure citizens can see they are being surveilled.

India's central government seems to quite likes the idea, as it has placed it atop a new list of tech-driven virus responses it decided to showcase. Most are very tame by comparison, with dashboards and social media outreach common.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, has called on citizens to adopt the nation's "Arogya Setu" contact-tracing app.

"Inspire others to download the app as well," the PM said in a Sunday address to the nation. ®

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