Parliamentary Speeches

Committee of Supply Debate 2022 on "Enabling Home Team Transformation Through Technology” - Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Communications and Information and Second Minister for Home Affairs

Published: 03 March 2022


1.   In 2015, MHA started our ambitious Home Team Transformation Journey. We recognised the need to overhaul the Home Team’s operating model to ensure we would be future-ready to meet evolving challenges, as new threats emerge amidst higher public expectations, rising workload, and manpower constraints.

2.   Seven years on, we have seen encouraging results. In the 2020 edition of the Home Team Public Perception Survey, over 88% of the respondents agreed that  Home Team uses technology effectively to enhance Singapore’s safety and security.

3.   In the era of hyper-innovation, each successful adoption of  technology is merely the beginning of more to come.

4.   I will update members on our efforts in three areas – first, new capabilities for greater operational effectiveness; second, safer and more convenient services for the public; and third, upskilling of our officers.

Technology Enhances Our Operational Effectiveness

5.   First, our operational effectiveness.

6.   Mr Christopher de Souza said as the nature of threats evolve, the Home Team needs to stay ahead by using technology to augment our operational responses and capabilities. We cannot agree more.

7.   Public trust is built on our ability to detect and prevent threats; and our speed of incident response.

SPF Cameras Network

8.   Mr Desmond Choo and Mr Vikram Nair asked about the Police cameras. Fortunately, we are operating from a position of strength. In terms of detection and prevention of threats, Police cameras deployed in public places island-wide have helped SPF solve more than 6,000 cases.  Their presence has also deterred criminals. Reports of crimes such as unlicensed moneylending have decreased by 94% from 2013 to 2021, between January to June, at approximately 2,100 HDB blocks installed with cameras.

9.   SPF will now expand its camera networks to more than 200,000 cameras by 2030 to continue to safeguard our public housing estates. In a survey conducted by SPF in 2021, 91% of respondents supported the installation of police cameras in public areas to deter, detect and solve crimes. As at end 2021, SPF has completed the installation of about 90,000 cameras at HDB blocks, multi-storey carparks, town centres, neighbourhood centres and hawker centres. SPF will continue to expand the cameras’ coverage to more public spaces and heartland areas to improve our response against crimes and security threats. The footage from these cameras are stored securely and only accessed by authorised officers. Artificial intelligence is applied to help officers analyse the high volume of footage.

SCDF Nationwide Hazardous Materials Sensor Grid

10.   SCDF has also been enhancing its capability over the years to better detect hazardous materials. In the next few years, SCDF will implement a real-time 24/7 nationwide sensor grid to enable early detection of hazardous materials. With earlier detection, SCDF will be able to quickly dispatch resources to investigate and manage the situation. The management of an incident involving hazardous materials is time critical, as these substances pose significant risks to public health, property, and the environment.

SPF/SCDF Video Extension for Emergency Numbers (VEEN)

11.   We are also using technology so that officers can respond faster and better to incidents.

12.   SPF and SCDF will be enhancing their 999 and 995 operations centres with VEEN, or  Video Extension for Emergency Numbers system. VEEN will allow officers in the Ops Centres to initiate a video call on the mobile phone of the 999 or 995 caller. With that, the Ops Centre will be able to see what is happening on the ground; and officers arriving at the scene will be able to react quicker and better. The VEEN system will be implemented in the first quarter of 2023.

SCDF Mobility Implementation Strategy and Operational Medical Networks Informatics Integrator (OMNII)

13.   SCDF frontline officers will also be equipped with smart devices - such as smartphones, tablets and smartwatches - so that they can respond better in emergencies. An example would be OMNII, or the Operational Medical Networks Informatics Integrator, jointly developed by SCDF and MOH. Launched in mid-2021, OMNII helps paramedics to make better interventions when responding to emergency medical cases through accessing a patient’s relevant medical data on the go. Paramedics can also quickly share information with the hospitals so that the patient can receive timely assistance upon arrival.

Technology Makes Processes More Efficient and Seamless for the Public

14.   The second area I will speak about is how we use technology to improve service delivery to the public.

15.   With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have accelerated the digitalisation of our services to minimise physical touchpoints and to reach more Singaporeans safely and conveniently.

ICA Digital Documents and MyICA Mobile App

16.   Currently, majority of ICA’s transactional e-Services see a high take-up rate of over 80%. Satisfaction rates among users are over 80%.

17.   This year, ICA will make available more digital documents. Members of the public will soon be able to apply for and access documents digitally, such as birth and death certificates, and long-term visit passes and student’s passes. This makes these processes completely digital end-to-end, and we will no longer need to worry about losing such important documents. This also saves time spent on travelling and collecting physical documents at ICA. Identity cards and passports will remain physical documents as the current legislation still requires the presentation of physical identity cards in certain settings, and we need to adhere to international passport standards set out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. 

18.   In time to come, these digital documents can be securely and conveniently retrieved on our mobile devices through the “MyICA Mobile” app. ICA will also be making more e-services, such as the application of identity cards, passports, and extension of visit pass available on this app.

ICA Automated Clearance Initiative (ACI) and Additional Auto-lanes at Land and Air Checkpoints

19.   Mr Mark Chay asked how technology can assist in the safe reopening of Singapore’s borders. As international travel starts to open up, we expect the number of travellers passing through our checkpoints to increase. ICA will introduce the Automated Clearance Initiative this year to allow more eligible visitors to use automated clearance facilities, without the need for prior application.

20.   In the longer-term, most residents, long-term pass holders, and visitors will be cleared through automated lanes in the passenger halls – which will be faster, more efficient and more secure. 

21.   Mr Sitoh Yih Pin asked if this will increase the immigration clearance time for Singaporeans since we will have a larger pool of travellers eligible for automated clearance. I would like to assure members that Singaporeans will not experience longer clearance times. We can clear a traveller at the automated lane in less than half the time compared to the manual counter. In addition, over the next three years, ICA will double the number of automated lanes at Changi Airport. All lanes can be flexibly allocated to serve specific traveller groups according to operational needs.

Videoconferencing and Tablets to Facilitate Rehabilitation

22.   Mr Baey Yam Keng asked how we have used technology to facilitate rehabilitation. We have used technology to ensure our rehabilitation programmes can continue during the pandemic, and keep families close to inmates. Since 2020, SPS has used videoconferencing for its rehabilitation programmes. Through the virtual family programmes, inmates were able to connect with their children, despite the pandemic. SPS also partnered with YRSG to facilitate virtual job placement interviews, allowing inmates to continue to access employment assistance. These virtual initiatives will be kept up to complement in-person sessions.

23.   SPS also uses tablets to facilitate inmates’ rehabilitation with self-directed learning and engagement. Inmates connect to their family and friends through e-letters and keep up with the news. This sense of connection with their loved ones and society is essential to their rehabilitation process.

Technology Helps Train Our Officers Safely and More Effectively

24.   A third and important area, is the use of technology to make training safer and more realistic for our officers.

25.   One example is SPF’s Live Instrumentation Training System, which do away with the need for our officers to fire live rounds during simulated tactical trainings; instead, lasers and body-worn detectors are used. 

26.   To make taser training safer for our officers, the Mobile TASER Training Target system uses computer vision technology to detect and analyse data, such as where the taser probes are targeted at, thus removing the need for conventional methods where officers wearing protective suits serve as targets.

Digital Upskilling of Officers

27.   Our officers are vested in this journey. They, too, want to have a stake in better understanding and leveraging technology.

28.   Thus, each Home Team Department has developed their own digital upskilling roadmaps to equip their officers with the relevant digital skills.

29.   The Home Team is also using technology to train our officers to tackle cybercrime. We adopt a two-pronged approach. First, we equip our Home Team officers with tools to detect and provide intelligence on cybercrime activities. For example, HTX developed an E-Commerce Surveillance Tool that uses AI to help enforcement officers sift through online listings of contrabands. As data mining and analysis is fully automated, this significantly reduces the enforcement efforts of contraband items from days or even weeks to a matter of hours. Second, we train and keep our officers updated on the latest cybercrime trends. For example, the SPF works with private sector organisations to train officers on technology features and technical skills to combat cybercrime.


30.   Sir, over the next few years, technology will continue to be a cornerstone in our transformation journey to help meet the challenges of our evolving security environment.

31.   MHA will build key capabilities to enable the delivery of our future digitalisation initiatives and accelerate innovation. HTX is developing HEIDI, or Hyperscale Enterprise Intelligent Digital Infrastructure, a dedicated cloud platform. HEIDI will enable HTX to quickly adopt and create new digital capabilities so that capacity can be scaled up quickly to meet future needs. It will also provide enhanced data security and stronger operational control compared to regular commercial cloud services. With HEIDI, the Home Team will be in a stronger position to fulfil our mission.

32.   Sir, leveraging technology to improve our capabilities will enable us to serve the public better, more efficiently and effectively. We will press on to ensure that Singapore remains a safe and secure home for all of us.