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Science and Tech in the Home Team
Four things you should know about Science and Technology in the Home Team!

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GRAPHIC: Home Team News

The Home Team’s Science and Technology (S&T) capabilities reflect our unique operational context and mission requirements. With the First Reading of the Home Team Science and Technology Agency Bill in Parliament yesterday, our S&T efforts will take a major leap forward. Here are four things you should know about Home Team S&T. 

1. It's a Force Multiplier 
When it comes to enhancing Home Team operations, S&T is an essential force multiplier. This is readily apparent at our land checkpoints; with over 280,000 travellers passing through Woodlands Checkpoint every day, it’s crucial that operations there are secure and efficient. 

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Watchful vigilance: In the Command Centre and on patrol at Woodlands Checkpoint. PHOTOS: Home Team News

Designed to meet the operational requirements of the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), the Automated Biometrics & Behavioural Screening Suite (ABBSS) comprises a network of cameras with facial recognition capabilities. This leading-edge analytics tool lets officers process high volumes of data quickly in order to identify Persons of Interest. ABBSS can also be deployed as body-worn-cameras for officers on patrol.

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Eyes in the sky: SPF UAVs in action. PHOTOS: SPF, Desmond Ang

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are another crucial security tool. Highly mobile and versatile, UAVs are a proven asset in the field, offering improved situational awareness and sense-making. Since 2016, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has trialled and deployed UAVs for enforcement, traffic management and crowd monitoring. 

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Power suit: The SCDF exoskeleton in action. PHOTOS: SCDF

Another tech initiative that's currently undergoing trials is the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) exoskeleton. Firefighters often have to carry loads of 60kg comprising breathing apparatus and other specialised equipment. The exoskeleton is engineered to increase the load-bearing capacity of firefighters so that they can carry equipment or convey casualties out of a danger zone, with less fatigue. 

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Supporting our investigators: HTIL houses an array of DNA forensic and analytical tools. PHOTOS: Natasha Razak

2. It's on the Leading Edge 
Homegrown tech such as ABBSS and the exoskeleton are at the leading edge and designed to meet the needs of the Home Team. Other core capabilities include forensics, which is a key investigative tool. Established in 2016, the Home Team Investigation Laboratory (HTIL) provides fast and accurate DNA forensic results to our officers. 

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Eye power: Travellers will undergo iris and facial scans as part of the contactless immigration clearance process. PHOTOS: Desmond Ang

Analytics tools are helping us make immigration clearance more efficient and secure. In April 2019, ICA began trials at Tuas Checkpoint for a new contactless immigration clearance system. Using biometrics technology (i.e. iris and facial recognition) to verify identities, the system allows travellers to breeze through designated lanes without the need to scan their passports. 

3. It’s All About Our Mission
When it comes to safeguarding our borders 24/7, did you know that we have a network of laboratories at our checkpoints that can detect and counter Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) threats?
 
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Scanning for CBRNE materials at our checkpoints. PHOTOS: Home Team News

At Tuas, Woodlands and Pasir Panjang, Home Team scientists and ICA officers work together to screen for toxic chemical agents, bio-threats (such as anthrax) and other dangerous or security-sensitive materials.  

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Faster responses in critical cases: SCDF has used data analytics to gain new insights and better deploy its resources. PHOTOS: Natasha Razak, Home Team News

Tapping on advances in how data is collected, analysed and visualised, the Home Team is also applying data analytics to boost capabilities and response times. One area in which data analytics has changed how we operate is Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Since 2013, processes and services at SCDF’s Operations Centre have been refined by reviewing a patient’s medical condition, available EMS resources, traffic patterns and other factors. The result? Critical cases now receive medical attention faster. 

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As MHA's first Public Service Commission Scholarship (Engineering) recipient, Lydia He (top, at left) is among those who are embracing the possibilities of applying S&T in the Home Team. PHOTOS: Home Team News

4. It’s Offering Exciting New Opportunities in S&T
With our focus on leading-edge applications, Home Team scientists, engineers and specialists can look forward to working on exciting projects in a range of domains. These include sense-making and surveillance; forensics; digital forensics; CBRNE threats; biometrics; command-and-control systems; data analytics and artificial intelligence; and robotics and unmanned systems. Through programmes such as the Ministry of Home Affairs' (MHA) Science and Technology Sponsorship, officers will also get the chance to deepen their skills in these domains.


S&T in the Home Team
The Home Team Science and Technology Agency Bill was introduced for First Reading in Parliament on 8 July 2019. The Bill sets out the scope and purposes of the Home Team Science and Technology Agency, which will drive innovation and develop technologies, to enhance the Home Team’s effectiveness in safeguarding Singapore. Learn more about the Bill here.

  1. by Mike Tan
  2. 09 July 2019
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