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MHA COS 2020: Transforming the Home Team to Safeguard Singapore

Building a stronger Home Team that's enabled by S&T.
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

At the Committee of Supply (COS) Debate in Parliament on 2 March 2020, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Mrs Josephine Teo noted how Science & Technology (S&T) has always been an essential enabler of the Home Team’s operations. Here are three highlights from her speech.

GRAPHIC: Home Team News

1. We’re building a stronger Home Team, enabled by S&T.
Establishing the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) in December 2019 marked a key milestone in our continual efforts to harness technology. HTX will house 14 Centres of Expertise (COEs) to develop deep tech capabilities to support a range of Home Team operations. These COEs include: 

Robotics, Automation and Unmanned Systems: HTX has developed customised solutions to augment Police and Civil Defence operations. For example, HTX worked with the Singapore Police Force (SPF) to develop the Multi-Purpose All Terrain Autonomous Robot (MATAR) 3.0. This robotic platform features a tethered Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and enhanced cameras to augment SPF’s sense-making capabilities. 

MATAR 3.0 in action and ROVER-X. PHOTOS: Home Team News

HTX is also studying the use of robots for lifesaving operations. One such robot is ROVER-X. Featuring navigational capabilities, thermal cameras and sensors, ROVER-X can be deployed in hazardous terrain that’s unsafe for humans, and reduce the time required to find and rescue victims. HTX will also be testing additional use cases for ROVER-X, such as monitoring hazardous materials, inspecting chemical plants and supporting the security of key installations.

Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE): Over the last 10 years, the Ministry of Home Affairs has set up a network of CBRNE detection laboratories and a Bio-Surveillance Programme along our borders as our first line of defence against CBRNE threats. The labs enable frontline units to detect and intercept dangerous materials at our checkpoints, and support investigations and intelligence gathering by the Home Team Departments. 

PHOTOS: Home Team News

HTX will expand its network of detection labs to more checkpoints. By 2023, HTX will also build a new lab at Changi Airfreight Centre, and more CBRNE facilities at Tuas Mega Port and Changi Airport Terminal 5 are planned. 

Digital Forensics: HTX and SPF are working together to develop new digital forensic capabilities. This year, HTX will implement the DIGital Evidence Search Tool (DIGEST) to automate the forensic processing of voluminous digital data. DIGEST will relieve the workload of SPF Investigation Officers so that they can focus on other aspects of investigative work. It will also be extended to other Home Team Departments such as the Central Narcotics Bureau.

2. We’re tapping on S&T to deliver better services. 
The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has been digitalising its services to achieve its customer-service vision of “No Fuss, No Visit, No Waiting” for Singapore residents and travellers.

PHOTOS: Home Team News

Through the use of cutting-edge biometrics technology, ICA will soon allow Singaporeans to verify their identities and breeze through immigration checkpoints without the need to produce their passports or provide their thumbprints. ICA has conducted trials of this contactless clearance concept at Tuas Checkpoint and Changi Airport. 

3. We’re preparing Home Team officers to adapt to technological transformations. 
One of the Home Team’s priorities is to grow its pool of engineers and scientists. Given the spectrum of capabilities the Home Team requires, HTX will recruit talent across practically every discipline of Science and Engineering. 

The Home Team will also build up a cadre of uniformed officers who are grounded in operational experience and proficient in S&T by introducing an “Ops-Tech Career Track” for Home Affairs Uniformed Services officers. For a start, over 200 Ops-Tech posts with redesigned job scopes will be identified within SPF and the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

MHA COS 2020
Read the COS 2020 speech delivered by Second Minister Josephine Teo. For more on MHA COS 2020, visit the MHA COS 2020 webpage.

Written by

Mike Tan


2 March 2020

Science and Technology
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