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MHA COS 2019: Preparing the Home Team for Future Challenges
Turning the spotlight on Science and Technology in the Home Team – four highlights you should know about.

Home Team News COS 2019 Cover 02
GRAPHIC: Home Team News

It’s an exciting time to be working on Science and Technology in the Home Team. 

At the Committee of Supply (COS) Debate in Parliament on 1 March 2019, Second Minister for Home Affairs Mrs Josephine Teo shared how the Home Team uses Science and Technology to safeguard Singapore. Here are four highlights from her speech.  

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The BioScreen-Multi Modal Biometrics Systems allows for more efficient and secure immigration clearance. PHOTOS: Home Team News

1. Border Screenings that are More Efficient and Secure
Our borders are our first line of defence against security threats. Last year, over 212 million travellers and 10 million consignments, containers and parcels crossed our checkpoints. By 2025, cross-border traveller and cargo volumes are projected to increase by around 40% and 70% respectively. 

To ensure that security measures keep pace with these changes, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority will implement the BioScreen-Multi Modal Biometrics System at checkpoints this year. This state-of-the-art system uses a combination of biometric identifiers (iris, facial features or fingerprints) for more efficient and secure immigration clearance. 

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Community crimebuster: PolCam has proven to be an effective technological tool in helping SPF solve a range of cases. PHOTOS: SPF

2. An Islandwide Network of Cameras
Surveillance and sense-making capabilities are vital crimefighting tools. One tech initiative that’s taken a bite out of crime is the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) Police Camera (PolCam) system. Launched in 2012, this game-changer can be found islandwide at HDB blocks, multi-storey carparks, town centres, hawker centres and the linkways of public transport nodes. Since then, PolCam and enforcement efforts have reduced property damage cases due to unlicensed moneylending harassment by over 80%.

PolCam has also helped to deter other crimes such as theft and outrage of modesty, and is often cited by residents as one of the main reasons we feel safe in our neighbourhoods. The Home Team will further strengthen its surveillance and sense-making capabilities. Real-time data will allow us to better coordinate our response to a security incident and, coupled with video analytics, helps us identify and track down criminals and terrorists. 

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On the ground and in the air, robots and drones offer Home Team officers a powerful edge. PHOTOS: Home Team News, SCDF

3. Of Robots and Drones 
When it comes to boosting our enforcement capabilities with robots and unmanned systems, the future’s already here. In recent years, SPF has trialled a number of patrol robots to enhance its physical presence on the ground. With live video capabilities, they can support frontline SPF officers and be deployed for protective security. 

Not only can robots fight crime, they also save lives. Check out the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) Red Rhino Robot. This compact, wheeled platform made its debut in 2018 and has autonomous firefighting capabilities.

Joining these next-generation robots are their smaller airborne counterparts – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or, as they are more commonly called, drones. With their manoeuvrability and surveillance abilities, drones are a proven asset in the field, giving Home Team commanders a bird’s-eye-view of events. 

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The proposed Science and Technology agency will help take the Home Team's tech capabilities to a new level. PHOTOS: Home Team News, SCDF

4. Our Very Own Science and Technology Agency 
We’ve saved the most exciting highlight for last, and it’s all about people – our Home Team engineers, programmers and scientists, to be exact. By the end of the year, the Ministry of Home Affairs will establish a dedicated agency to develop the Home Team’s Science and Technology capabilities. 

Why our very own agency? 

As Second Minister Teo noted, to prepare for fast-evolving security challenges, the Home Team must have deep, in-house expertise in mission-critical areas. Not only are biometrics, forensics, surveillance and robotics increasingly crucial to safeguarding Singapore, they are also domains that are unique to the Home Team. 

A dedicated agency will allow our engineers, programmers and scientists to focus on leading-edge research and build systems that help keep Singapore safe and secure. And that’s a future we can all be excited about!  



MHA COS 2019
- Read the COS Speech delivered by Second Minister Josephine Teo.
- Visit MHA’s COS webpage.
- For more articles on Science and Technology in the Home Team, visit this page

  1. by Mike Tan
  2. 01 March 2019
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