On Assignment

Behind the Streams: A HTX Take on the Emergency Video System

Delve into the work that went into designing a secure and user-friendly system.
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GRAPHIC: Ducro Ian Gerard

Frontline officers at the Singapore Police Force (SPF) Police Operations Command Centre and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Operations Centre now have additional "eyes" to see emergency situations unfold and allow them to make better assessment and decision to render help.

­­The Emergency Video System (EVS), launched on 20 March 2023, enhances the Home Team’s emergency response. Capitalising on the ubiquity of smart phones with video recording functions, the system allows callers to the “999” or “995” hotlines to livestream incidents to SPF and SCDF call operators when the operators request for a live video stream.

The live video feed helps the operators obtain a better picture of the ground situation before responding officers arrive, thereby improving the calibration of ground response at an earlier stage.

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The system is a joint development by SPF, SCDF and the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) in collaboration with ST Engineering.

“The joint development stemmed from similar needs faced by SPF and SCDF – to address the lack of visual assessment of the incident scene and location during an emergency call,” said Mr Ling Kok Yong, Director of Civil Defence Programme Management Centre (CDPMC), HTX, who is part of the HTX project team behind EVS. “HTX’s Policing Programme Management Centre (PPMC) and CDPMC worked closely with SPF and SCDF to understand their operations and needs and identify a solution.”

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Members of the HTX Project Team behind the EVS: (From left) Serene Tan (Lead Engineer, Policing Programme Management Centre, HTX), Zhang Ying (Head, Civil Defence Programme Management Centre, HTX), Victor Yuen (Head, Policing Programme Management Centre, HTX), Priscilla Lee (Engineer, Civil Defence Programme Management Centre, HTX), Bernard Phang (Director, Policing Programme Management Centre, HTX). Missing from photo: Ling Kok Yong (Director, Civil Defence Programme Management Centre, HTX). PHOTO: Arvind Chan

With the requirements established, the team put together technical specifications, and then oversaw the design, testing, and commissioning of the system.

Much thought and care were given to designing a secure system. Victor Yuen, Head of PPMC, shared that the biggest challenge faced when developing the system was in balancing security and convenience.

“As the system is public facing, the cybersecurity threat risk is high. It is crucial to ensure the system is robust enough to deter any hackers.

The ground responding officers receive the live feed on their work-issued smartphone. The challenge in enabling this live feed is to ensure the access to video feeds is not compromised. Due to this added security feature, adequate training was provided to the ground officers so that they can access the video feed conveniently and securely,” said Victor.

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SPF operators conducting a simulation of the EVS during a media preview. PHOTO: Arvind Chan

Even though the system is newly launched, HTX is thinking about possible system enhancements. They will subsequently review and consider implementing other sensemaking technology, such as facial recognition, to go beyond just live-streaming.

Written by

Ducro Ian Gerard


6 April 2023

Science and Technology
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