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2023 Wrapped (Part 2)

Here’s a recap of some of the Home Team’s key moments in 2023.
2023 Wrapped Part 2 01
GRAPHIC: Amber Qua

Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX)
HTX 2023 Wrapped Part 2 02
Vayyar is selected as a start-up within the inaugural cohort of Hatch’s SOSA-HTX Open Innovation Challenge. It has developed real-time radar-based scanning technology to see through materials and detect objects of interest. PHOTO: HTX

On 30 May 2023, HTX launched innovation hub Hatch with the goal of nurturing promising global start-ups and scouting cutting-edge technologies for potential applications in public safety and security. 

Hatch’s key accelerator programme - the biannual Open Innovation Challenge - attracted applications from 60 start-ups from around the world. The Challenge gives start-ups the opportunity to co-develop their public safety and security solutions together with HTX’s scientists and end-users from HTDs to test their concepts against real-world scenarios. 

HTX 2023 Wrapped Part 2 03
Roundtable discussion with the representatives from Hatch, Wonder Robotics, Kardome, Vayyar, and Moon Tech. PHOTO: HTX

Another programme is the Technology Scouting Programme, which will actively scout emerging technologies across industry sectors, enabling HTX to be agile in innovations to stay ahead of future threats. Hatch aims to be the portal for global start-ups from across all sectors to connect and work with the Home Team to create new solutions to enhance public safety and security.

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Engineers from the Human Factors and Simulation Centre of Expertise demonstrating the virtual reality enhanced simulation for training of firefighters. PHOTO: HTX

HTX’s inaugural job fair took place on 1 June 2023 at the LaunchPad @ one-north. The fair drew many visitors and jobseekers who were eager to explore the 500 science and technology job openings that HTX aimed to fill this year. Visitors had the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with HTX’s scientists and engineers, gaining valuable insights into the culture and different areas of work in HTX. Onboard the HTXpress, a mobile exhibition on wheels, visitors got a taste of life as an Xponent when they played games which tested their reflexes and pattern recognition skills. Careers@HTX showed STEM talents what it is like to work and grow in HTX, doing purposeful work to keep Singapore safe and secure.

HTX partnered with Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) on Project eXtramural, a joint innovation project to develop a Biometrics Self-Enrolment Kiosk. This kiosk allows the public to enrol their fingerprints, faces, and irises independently. It enables one officer to oversee multiple kiosks and assist only when needed, aligning with ICA’s vision of efficient service delivery.

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Project eXtramural Prototype. PHOTO: HTX

The initiative, part of the Services Centre Next Generation programme, targets ICA’s 2025 goal of ‘No Fuss, No Visit, No Waiting’, reducing waiting times and streamlining biometrics enrolment for Singapore residents and pass holders. Since no ready-made solution existed, the team had to design and customise the kiosk, incorporating feedback from ICA officers and the public through trials to improve its functionality. 

The team envisions broader applications for the Biometrics Self-Enrolment Kiosk in various security services utilising biometrics, offering customisation options for different organisations. These kiosks promise decentralised government services, enhancing convenience and service quality for the public. 

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Visitors to Milipol Paris 2023 easily spotted the Singapore Pavilion. PHOTO: HTX

HTX led a delegation of scientists, engineers and industry partners to showcase innovative homeland security solutions at the Singapore Pavilion at Milipol Paris 2023. Organised by the French Ministry of Interior and other security organisations, Milipol Paris 2023 is a renowned international event dedicated to homeland safety and security. 

The Singapore Pavilion, themed ‘Exponentially Impacting Singapore’s Safety and Security”, featured cutting-edge homegrown security innovations from HTX and its industry partners, spanning domains from solving crimes to safeguarding public spaces. Showcasing Singapore’s science and technology capabilities on an international stage allowed HTX to engage and expand their network of partners while building capabilities to fortify homeland security. 

Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA)
In 2023, ICA commemorated its 20th anniversary and celebrated two decades of transformation and innovation. The perpetual challenge of balancing border security with the facilitation of traveller and goods movement through Singapore’s borders has been the driving force behind ICA’s continuous efforts to innovate and leverage technology to execute its mission effectively. 

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The Business Transformation Award was presented to ICA on 5 July 2023. PHOTO: MCI

In recognition of ICA’s transformation efforts on three fronts: the New Clearance Concept (NCC), Services Centre Next Generation (SCNG) and Workforce Development, ICA was awarded the Business Transformation Award by Public Service Division (PSD).  

ICA continued to make significant progress in realising NCC, SCNG, as well as addressing traffic congestion at land checkpoints.

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Travellers using the Automated Lanes, which take up less space and manpower than manual counters. PHOTO: ICA

This year, ICA announced the launch of the Automated Clearance Initiative (ACI). This initiative is a crucial component of ICA’s NCC, striving to make automated clearance the norm at the checkpoints. Under the ACI, eligible foreign visitors, including first-time visitors, can proceed directly to designated automated lanes upon arrival without the need for prior enrolment. Their biometrics are automatically enrolled during the clearance process. These visitors will also be able to use the automated lanes during departure and on their subsequent trips to Singapore. 

As automated lanes take up less physical space and require less manpower than manual counters, ICA would be able to increase its clearance throughput and meet the growing traveller volume, which is expected to reach 300 million per year by 2025. Correspondingly, the job roles of ICA officers will be enhanced to perform profiling, assessment and investigative work beyond immigration counter duties.

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The digital Long-Term Pass (LTP) has replaced physical versions since February 2023. PHOTO: ICA

Since February 2023, ICA ceased issuing physical Long-Term Pass (LTP) cards. Only digital LTPs are issued. With this initiative, LTP holders no longer risk misplacing nor have to visit ICA for the collection of the physical card. LTP holders can download their digital LTP through platforms and avenues such as MyICA mobile app, ICA website or FileSG to their personal devices for their transactions with various entities. Government agencies and private entities can also easily verify the passes online. This digitalisation effort brings ICA closer to the SCNG vision, where online transactions and digital documents will become the norm. 

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Travellers crossing Singapore borders at land checkpoints. PHOTO: ICA

ICA implemented several initiatives at land checkpoints to enhance the cross-border movement of people and goods. With the rise in traveller volume since the reopening of land checkpoints in 2022, there is a need for sustainable solutions, utilising technology over manpower to manage congestion. This is vital for maintaining Singapore’s economic and social connectivity with Malaysia. Initiatives include:

Increasing Clearance Capacity for Motorcycles at Tuas Checkpoint
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Motorcyclists can now enjoy smoother travel at Tuas Checkpoint with the help of automated clearance lanes. PHOTO: ICA

In May 2023, ICA officers started diverting some of the arriving motorcyclists to the departure motorcycle zone for automated immigration clearance during weekday morning peak hours. This has facilitated quicker clearance via automated lanes, reducing queue times and preventing motorcycle congestion along the Second Link, which often obstructed other modes of conveyance, such as trucks, from entering Tuas Checkpoint. 

Improving Clearance Efficiency and Traveller Experience at Bus Halls and Concourses 
Since the beginning of 2023, ICA has observed an increase in travellers using buses for cross-border commuting compared to cars. This can be attributed to efforts to enhance automated clearance capacity at bus halls through the ACI, the installation of more automated lanes, as well as the conversion of arrival lanes for departure clearance during peak periods. ICA also worked with stakeholders, such as bus operators, to introduce loop services and increase bus frequency at checkpoints, reducing waiting times for travellers during peak periods at bus concourses. 

Improving Clearance Efficiency and Traveller Experience at Woodlands Train Checkpoint
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Self-clearance immigration kiosks installed at Woodlands Train Checkpoint halves clearance times for train travellers as compared to manual counters. PHOTO: ICA

In March 2023, ICA operationalised 10 bi-directional self-clearance immigration kiosks to augment automated clearance capacity at the Woodlands Train Checkpoint. These are the first immigration clearance kiosks implemented at the checkpoints. Each self-clearance transaction at the kiosk takes approximately 24 seconds, as compared to 45 seconds at the manual counter. The increased clearance throughput prevents overcrowding at train platforms and allow arrival trains to turnaround for departure quickly. The kiosks provide travellers with a speedier clearance while enabling ICA to redeploy some officers to areas that require more support during peak periods. 

Singapore Police Force (SPF)
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The heavily armoured Tactical Strike Vehicle is the latest addition to the Special Operations Command’s fleet and will augment the Rapid Deployment Troops’ tactical capabilities. PHOTO: SPF

The Tactical Strike Vehicle (TSV) is the latest addition to the Special Operations Command's arsenal of tactical vehicles. The TSV was jointly developed by SPF and HTX to augment the Rapid Deployment Troops' tactical capabilities. Heavily fortified with a protective mesh and an armoured body for enhanced troop protection, it is able to swiftly punch through the heart of a public security incident to neutralise the threat. 

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The Special Operations Command 70th Anniversary Parade was held on 10 November 2023. PHOTO: SPF

SPF’s Reserve Unit was formed in 1953, after the Maria Hertogh riots in 1950. This marked the origin of the Special Operations Command (SOC). Seventy years on, SOC has transformed into a strategic force for SPF, providing the highest level of tactical armed response through the Special Tactics and Rescue Unit, a broad range of public order capabilities in the Police Tactical Unit and a highly-skilled K-9 Unit.

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One of many public education efforts by the SPEO to enhance resilience against scams. GRAPHIC: SPF

Set up in January 2023, SPEO consists of Police officers, civilian officers and psychologists who work closely together to drive anti-scam public education efforts. SPEO leverages partnerships with public and private entities, ensuring consistent anti-scam messaging across communication and social media platforms. Through their work, they hope to be able to enhance the public’s resilience against scams.

Read Part 1.

Read Part 3.

Written by

Tham Yee Lin and Amber Qua


21 December 2023

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