Published: 06 May 2022
Commissioner Marvin Sim,
Colleagues from ICA and the Home Team,
1. A very good afternoon to each and everyone of you. I am very happy to join you in person today.
2. The theme of today’s workplan seminar – “Many Roles, One Mission” – is an apt reflection of what ICA is currently doing.
3. ICA plays multi-faceted roles to keep Singapore’s borders secure. In addition to its traditional role in keeping our borders secure from a national security perspective, ICA also had to take up public health roles during the COVID 19 pandemic, as the lead agency for the Stay Home Notice regime and the Safe Travel Office. These are beyond what you would think a border security agency should be doing.
4. Even while taking on these new responsibilities, ICA has not let up on its transformation efforts, to innovate and deliver better services to Singaporeans and travelers.
5. I would like to make three points today. First, on transformation. Second, training, and third, on trust. These are vital elements for ICA’s continued success.
6. Let us talk about firstly on transformation.
7. By seizing the opportunities provided by technology, ICA has strengthened border control and improved service delivery.
New Clearance Concept
8. Central to ICA’s checkpoint transformation is the New Clearance Concept, or NCC.
9. Most travellers will be eligible for automated self-clearance from next year, without the need for prior enrolment of biometrics. Over the next three years, the number of automated lanes at Changi Airport will double.
10. ICA will put in place Special Assistance Lanes at Changi Airport by the end of the year, and will extend them to other checkpoints progressively from end 2023. These Special Assistance Lanes will facilitate more convenient clearance for persons with reduced mobility, as well as families with young children and the elderly.
11. Cargo clearance will become fully automated and paperless. ICA is trialling the use of artificial intelligence in X-ray image analysis to strengthen detection capabilities. This augments the ability of ICA officers to detect prohibited items without compromising smooth clearance.
12. Under the NCC, checkpoint clearance will become seamless, safer and more secure.
Services Centre Next Generation
13. Another key transformation initiative is the Services Centre Next Generation, or SCNG.
14. To realise the vision of “No Fuss; No Visit; No Waiting”, ICA has moved many of its services online. Today, 99% of ICA’s public transactions are covered by the e-Services, which can be accessed online via the MyICA web portal and mobile application.
15. Later this year, ICA will introduce digital documents for birth and death certificates, Student’s Pass and Long-Term Visit Pass. The public can access these documents, securely and conveniently, whenever and wherever.
Integrated Processing System
16. To complement front-end services, ICA is developing the Integrated Processing System, or IPS, in phases from 2023 to 2026. ICA’s various backend systems will be consolidated into a single processing system.
17. With the IPS, the public will not need to approach different ICA services centres and submit the same information for different products and services.
18. I am happy to note that ICA has continued to maintain high service delivery standards. Often, I hear fellow Singaporeans and foreign friends sharing their pleasant experiences with ICA’s efficiency and service quality, including when using ICA’s digital services. I myself recently went through the e-Services, and I found it very easy, without much fuss, and I was able to complete the transaction I wanted very smoothly. So, these anecdotal experiences are corroborated by results from ICA’s Customer Perception Survey 2021. More than 95% of survey respondents felt that ICA’s e-Services were easy to use and strongly supported ICA’s provision of digital services. This shows that ICA is moving in the right direction.
19. The NCC, SCNG,and IPS are important transformation initiatives. Together, they will enable ICA to stay ahead of the curve and continue to provide top-notch service without compromising safety and security.
20. Another equally important outcome of transformation is the creation of better and higher value jobs for ICA officers. About 1,200 jobs have been given higher grades, with 900 more jobs expected to be upgraded.
21. The second element, is training.
22. As ICA transforms, training is vital to equip officers with the skills and capabilities needed for their new roles.
23. The NCC will greatly reduce the need for checkpoint officers to check passports manually. Officers will perform more complex tasks, such as traveller profiling and incident response. Some 4,400 ICA officers will complete the NCC training by the end of this year, and be equipped with profiling, investigation and interviewing skills. In my visits to ICA checkpoints, and meeting colleagues, I realise that all of you are very good at profiling people, and this comes from your experience. This is something that you keep close to your heart, and these are skills that together with new developments, we can harness it, and training is key to this.
24. Under the SCNG, ICA service ambassadors and advisors will need to acquire a high level of knowledge of the various products offered by the Services Centre. Officers will also be given additional training in areas such as professional writing, service delivery and service recovery skills. Training for SCNG started last year, and we will train about 500 officers by next year.
25. These various training requirements are mapped out in ICA’s Tradecraft Competency Framework. On top of training for the NCC and SCNG, the framework also includes training for important cross-cutting competencies, such as data governance and digital skills.
26. To make training relevant and realistic, ICA taps on technology-enabled learning platforms. For example, an augmented reality (AR) training application is used to test officers’ ability to distinguish between genuine and tampered or forged travel documents.
27. A virtual reality (VR) training system is used to enhance incident response by exposing officers to scenarios that are difficult to replicate in reality.
28. Transiting to new job roles and tasks is not an easy endeavour. Training is like exercising. It may start off uncomfortable and challenging because your body is not accustomed to it. But as you progress, you become fitter and may even find it enjoyable. It then becomes a habit, and it connects mind and body.
29. Hence, I urge all officers to approach training with the same dedication you have towards your day-to-day duties.
30. To better support ICA officers in the transition to new roles, I am happy to unveil ICA’s new Number Four uniforms for frontline officers. The new uniforms incorporated feedback from officers. With improved breathability and stretchability, they will be more comfortable to wear and move around in.
31. Finally, the third and most important element for the Home Team – trust.
32. ICA leverages technology, data analytics and automation to enhance operational effectiveness and improve service delivery. In doing so, a large amount of data is collected and stored. The data is also shared with many other public agencies to support other Government services.
33. ICA is the custodian of the national person database and the designated single source of truth for such personal data. Hence, ICA’s systems and infrastructure must be robust and resilient to ensure data security.
34. Data security is imperative for ICA to maintain a high level of public trust. This creates a virtuous cycle: A high level of public trust will promote greater information flow. This information will enable us to make better policies and provide better services for Singaporeans. Consequently, this strengthens the public’s trust in ICA.
35. The pandemic has been a critical litmus test of public trust for governments around the world, including Singapore. To fulfil its mission to keep Singapore safe, ICA must continue to maintain a high level of public trust.
36. Every one of you represents ICA, in what you do and how you do it. Hence, public trust in ICA is built on the efforts of each and every officer, past and present. We must continue to maintain strong public trust by upholding the highest level of integrity in our conduct and actions.
37. Singapore’s transition to COVID resilience marks the next phase of border control. This presents both challenges and opportunities for ICA officers.
38. As the first line of defence, ICA will need to balance safety and security concerns against the demands posed by the return of high traveller and cargo volumes, as we have seen over the last few weeks.
39. At the same time, ICA’s transformation efforts will reshape customer experience and benefit more Singaporeans and visitors.
40. Through the transformation and training efforts, I am confident that ICA will become a future-ready agency that will continue to keep Singapore’s borders secure and Singaporeans safe.
41. Before I end, I sincerely would like to express my deepest appreciation to all ICA officers for your commitment, hard work and sacrifices in the past years.
42. I wish you all a fruitful seminar. Thank you for having me.