Launch of the Security Industry Digital Plan (IDP) - Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs

Published: 18 July 2018

Senior Parliamentary Secretary Ms Sun Xueling

Mr Patrick Tay, Assistant Secretary General of NTUC

Friends from The Labour Movement

Friends and Colleagues

A.     Recognising the contributions of Security Officers


2.     Very good morning. I am happy to join you at this year’s Security Officers’ Day Awards ceremony. First order of the day is really to congratulate all 103 award recipients today and well done to all of you.


3.     Our security officers often work in the background. We all know that. When they do their jobs well and there are no security incidents, we might not remember that they contributed to our sense of comfort and peace and security. And it would be wrong for us to assume no effort is required.


4.     So I’m glad Security Association of Singapore (SAS) organises a Security Officers’ Day Awards every year, and you chose 24/7 – how apt that is, and make this an annual occasion to recognise security officers who have delivered excellent and consistent performance on the job. Security agencies nominate their best employees and the industry presents awards to appreciate their contributions.


5.     As we all know, last month, many of our security officers worked especially hard during the Trump-Kim Summit. The successful Summit gave Singapore tremendous international exposure. Wherever you were, people will ask you and you would say Singapore is where you come from, that is where the Trump-Kim Summit was taking place. But behind the scenes, we all knew, actually it was the biggest stress test we could put ourselves through, in terms of safety and security. The stakes were very high. You succeed on the world scale. If you did not succeed, if you fail, the “malu-ation” is also on the world scale. Thankfully, everyone chipped in and helped to make sure that Singapore lives up to our reputation as a safe and secure city.In other words, the confidence of the world was not misplaced.

B.     ITM and Security of the Future


6.     We don’t know when Singapore’s safety and security will again be as severely stress-tested.In the meantime, we have to make plans to be better equipped for Security of the Future, which is the theme of today’s event. What does this future look like and how do we get there?


7.     Among other things, there will be a decisive shift to use technology. Our security officers will deliver better security, but with a leaner team. They will use more sophisticated ‘hardware’, but the key will be the ‘software’ of people and processes, which ensure technology is used in a meaningful way.


8.     Our goal must be to integrate technology, manpower and processes: in terms of how security services are provided, how they are procured, and how they are delivered by our security officers.


9.     These are key elements of the Security Industry Transformation Map (ITM) that I launched in February this year. There are no shortcuts to achieving this goal. We must: First, equip our security companies with the capability to offer security solutions that integrate technology and manpower. Man and machine, working well together. Second, we must give security officers the skills to take on higher-value jobs created by technology. Third, we must help modernise how security buyers procure services.


C.     Solutions-Based Companies of the Future

10.     Let me start with our security agencies and the security solutions that they offer.


11.     This is on the supply side. Uplifting capabilities here is critical and it is but the first step we need in order to make good progress. By 2021, overtime exemption will be removed, which will add pressure on manpower. All the agencies know that. But it is also an important opportunity to transform the industry’s manpower-intensive business model.


12.     Several of our security agencies are making headway. But the majority, especially smaller security agencies, still find it difficult. There are two common reasons: One, many agencies do not have an in-house IT Department to turn to for advice. They don’t know which of the many technology solutions in the market have the features they need, and are tried and tested. Because everything looks equally attractive, everything looks like they can help. That is one problem. The other problem is that adopting technology involves upfront costs, you have to put in some investment. Even if the investment pays off in the future through productivity savings, you still have to come up with the money upfront. The risk is compounded if there’s uncertainty about whether customers will accept the technology that you pick. These are the two challenges that security agencies tell us and we have to find a way to help them overcome these challenges. How so? We know they don’t have an IT department, not everyone can afford to build up such a big IT department that can evaluate all the different solutions. But we have the national IT department – it is called IMDA.


Security Industry Digital Plan


13.     With the help of IMDA, we are putting out the Security Industry Digital Plan (IDP), which I’m launching today.


14.     And it was a collaborative effort between IMDA and MHA, and MHA is very grateful to IMDA for this partnership, and through extensive consultation with the labour movement, security associations and agencies who eventually are the ones who have to decide to procure it, and how to procure it.


15.     This IDP therefore provides security agencies with an easy-to-use, step-by-step guide on which technology to adopt at each stage of growth. And this IDP also helps with the upfront cost of adopting technology, we will also provide funding support to local SME security agencies.


16.     I want to highlight the technologies that every security agency will need to be competitive in the future.In the Security IDP, we call them “Stage 1” technologies, because they are the basic building blocks for integrated solutions. There are three:


17.     One, Automated visitor management system. Many buildings in Singapore need to register visitors. This is still often done manually by a security officer using pen and logbook. I have seen this even in large commercial buildings. Using an automated visitor management system to scan and verify visitor information will free up time for officers to focus on higher-value tasks, such as incident response. Data entry errors can be minimised, and visitor records searched in an instant in case you need to do so. Officers can even conduct data analytics to identify peak visitor periods or patterns so you can help your companies be better in planning deployment.


18.     The second building block – a mobile-enabled patrol and incident management system which can replace manual incident reporting and site management. Security officers with customised smartphones can report incidents quickly. The location of security officers can be tracked for better safety and situational awareness.


19.     Third, CCTV cameras with video analytics. Instead of manpower-intensive patrols, a building perimeter can be monitored using CCTV and abnormal activities automatically detected. A single security officer can oversee hundreds of CCTVs, by using analytics as automated ‘digital eyes’. But when an alert is triggered, we still need well-trained and experienced officers to exercise judgement on how to intervene.


20.     As far as we can tell, adoption of these basic building blocks is still very low. Many agencies don’t use any of the technologies. At most, 30 per cent use one of them. In other words, we are still very far from a technology-enabled future of the industry.


21.     To make it easy for security agencies to adopt these digital technologies, MHA and IMDA will provide a list of pre-approved digital solutions in each of the three categories. We will select solutions that are proven, market-tested and cost-effective. This reduces effort needed by SME security agencies to find their own solutions, and gives them peace of mind that the vendor is reliable. At the point where they get admitted into the programme, the vendor is reliable, and if they prove to be not reliable, IMDA will make sure they no longer remain on the list. So therefore the list will be populated by reliable vendors.


22.     Enterprise Singapore (ESG) is also a partner, and they will support local SME security agencies that want to adopt these pre-approved digital solutions through the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG). PSG will support 50 per cent of the qualifying costs, capped at $30,000 per company each year. ESG is able to grasp the fact that it is quite a lot to do in one year. So their grant cap is quite reasonably framed - $30,000 each year. So you do it, and then the next year you do something else, there is still support available through PSG. This will help SME security agencies manage upfront costs of investing in technology. In total, we will set aside at least $7 million to support security agencies under the PSG over the next two to three years. This is in addition to the $10 million support package I announced the Government will commit to at the launch of the Security ITM. So I think we are making resources available and putting money where our mouth is.


23.     With these pre-approved digital solutions and support available through PSG, we aim to double the number of security agencies that adopt at least one of these three pre-approved digital solutions by 2020. We don’t have a lot of time. Whatever the number is today, we hope to double it within the next two and a half years. Certainly by 2025, these basic building blocks should be the norm and no longer the exception. That is the future that we want to work towards.


24.     SME security agencies can visit Tech Depot at SME Portal from today to view and purchase pre-approved digital solutions. There are seven pre-approved solution packages available. More solutions will be added in the coming months. Vendors are also welcome to apply to IMDA to have new digital solutions pre-approved.


25.     The Security IDP also maps out digital technologies for security agencies which are further along their digital journey, such as clustered security guarding and surveillance robots and drones. More advanced agencies keen on adopting these technologies can approach the SME Digital Tech Hub for advice.


Update on Call for Innovative Solutions


26.     Beyond the Security IDP, we are looking for ways to spur innovation and develop a pipeline of new security technology. Because, we must look ahead to the future, by 2025, if what I have described as basic building blocks are already the norm and no longer the exception, what next? We need to start building the pipeline today. One example is MHA and IMDA’s Call for Innovative Solutions, which was announced at the launch of the Security ITM. This call allows security agencies to partner with technology providers and service buyers to co-develop solutions that are not yet available in the market. We received an excellent response to this call, with over 15 proposals received by the closing date in May. We will announce successful applicants soon. We are going through the evaluation process.


Technical Reference for Video Analytics


27.     As we invest in more technology, performance and inter-operability standards will become particularly important. Because the technologies that we invest in cost you money, and the different systems don’t talk to one another, then we actually cannot optimise technologies that we have invested in. This is especially so for solutions like video analytics where there are many vendors with different specifications. Each one of them, when the sales team talks to you, all sounds very good, so it is a bit tough for you to decide.


28.     The SAS and Security Systems Association of Singapore will come together and lead two working groups to develop a Technical Reference for Video Analytics systems. This is also with the support of IMDA and ESG. The Technical Reference will cover selection, installation, operation, maintenance and data interoperability. Buyers can then rely on the Technical Reference as a benchmark of quality and reliability when purchasing systems. The Government may also use the Technical Reference when evaluating Video Analytics technology for funding under Government schemes, such as the Productivity Solutions Grant. In other words, this Technical Reference should be a reference document we all turn to, to make sure we make the most of technology investments, and we are hoping that this will be ready by end-2019.


D.     Security Officers of the Future


29.     Now, no matter how feature-packed technology solutions become, they are only beneficial when well-integrated with skilled manpower and processes. This is why preparing our security workforce is critical. Let us never forget that. Technology gives our officers opportunities to take on higher-value tasks, like incident response and analysing security information. But they first need to be equipped with the right mind-set and skills.


30.     Changing the way things have always been done can seem like a scary idea. Of course, from the individual’s perspective, the concern that is topmost on people’s minds is always: How will technology change my job? Will I still have a job? We hear these concerns from many officers, and we will make sure they are equipped with the right skills to progress with this new future.


31.     This is why I am also very glad that this year, Security Association Singapore introduced the Job Redesign Award, to recognise officers who have embraced technology, who welcomed it and who overcame their fears and find a way to make it work for them. They are examples of how doing things differently with technology, has changed their jobs for the better.


32.     One recipient of this new award is Mr Kenny Ng. Kenny has been a security officer for more than 11 years, and is a senior security supervisor at KH Security Agency. When he first started as a security supervisor, he had to make sure the patrols were conducted properly and the only way he could do so was to follow his officers on patrols, or later on as it became easier when everyone has a smartphone and can snap photos, he could ask them to take photos at each checkpoint and send it back to him to relieve his work a little bit.


33.     But he still had to manually vet these photos and even then, these methods do not ensure patrols were conducted properly all the time. But now, with a mobile patrol and incident management system and CCTV cameras, Kenny can monitor the perimeter remotely and dispatch patrols efficiently. This assures his clients of better security. Clients are happier.


34.     The same incident management system enables Kenny to file reports within 30 minutes, instead of the hours it used to take to compile the reports manually. Technology has given Kenny the confidence and greater job satisfaction, and helped his team deliver better security to his clients. To recognise his performance, his firm will promote him to Chief Security Officer this October. Later on you will watch a video and he will tell you more. So I’m very happy for Kenny, and it also shows the career progression that is possible when you equip officers with these skills.


35.     To equip more officers with the skills to adopt technology, the Security IDP includes a Digital Roadmap on training. It is developed by the Security Industry Institute under Temasek Polytechnic and SkillsFuture Singapore, this roadmap outlines new courses developed for officers to acquire a range of digital skills. They range from basic skills such as Microsoft Excel to advanced skills like using Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality at the workplace. In other words, a more digitally-savvy security workforce.


36.     At the same time, we will work with training providers to incorporate greater use of technology in existing courses in the PWM framework, so officers become familiar with how technology integrates with security operations.


Service Buyers of the Future


37.     While technology will change the way security services are delivered, one major frustration remains, and for security agencies is the refusal of some customers to move with the times. In other words, even as the supply side modernises, so too must the demand side.


38.     When they renew their contracts, service buyers still tend to want the same manpower commitment, but at a lower price. But with intelligent use of technology, we can actually have better security with less manpower, and we can still have lower or comparable cost.


39.     It involves changing their procurement methods to be based on outcomes, not headcount. And with proper security assessment, outcome-based contracts allow security companies to innovate and deliver solutions that integrate technology and manpower based on the security needs of the buyer.


40.     Some service buyers find it difficult to adopt outcome-based security contracts. One reason is that they do not know how to craft an outcome-based contract. Some are also worried about being the first to change the status quo. So there is a stronger tendency to stick with the status quo.


Guide for Outcome-Based Security Contracts


41.     We recognise these concerns. Therefore, MHA, in consultation with the labour movement and security associations and agencies, has developed a Guide for Outcome-Based Security Contracts to support service buyers in adopting outcome-based contracts.


42.     This Guide provides the principles and templates for service buyers to adopt outcome-based contracts at every stage of the tender process. To train procurement officers, because procurement officers must become more attuned to different way of procurement. MHA is working with SkillsFuture Singapore, the Security Industry Institute, and NTUC U-Care to develop a new training programme based on this Guide. We target to launch it by end of this year.


43.     I mentioned in February that the government will take the lead in adopting outcome-based security contracts.Our target is for most government agencies to adopt outcome-based security contracts by 2020.


44.     We are making good progress – JTC and SLA have adopted outcome-based contracts in recent tenders. We have engaged two major government buyers - MOE and HDB - whose security contracts are due for renewal over the next year, to also adopt outcome-based security contracts. Including JTC, and SLA, the annual contract value of these agencies is over $70 million. In other words, we are telling security agencies that there is going to be movement on the buyer side, so please get ready for it.


45.     For service buyers from the private sector who want to make the switch to outcome-based contracts, NTUC U Care Centre is administering a pilot scheme named the Smart Sourcing Initiative, which provides up to $100,000 in funding support for service buyers. And I am happy to share that the pilot scheme for security contracts is almost fully subscribed. The Government will consider extending the funding support to more private sector service buyers if the pilot is successful. We are looking for projects that are in new types of security arrangements that have not yet been piloted.


46.     The Security Industry Council, consisting of the Union of Security Employees, Security Association of Singapore and Association of Certified Security Agencies, will organise outreach sessions to also help service buyers adopt outcome-based contracts. We need to go out and persuade more of the buyers to understand how the industry is changing, and how they need to modernise along with it.




47.     Let me wrap things up, maybe by going back to the question I asked right at the beginning: what is the security of the future?


48.     Well, the security of the future is a vibrant and technologically advanced security industry. It is one where security agencies and service buyers adopt solutions that integrate technology, skilled manpower and operational processes to deliver better value and security outcomes.


49.     The Security IDP and the Guide for Outcome-based Security Contracts are significant steps towards our objective as we implement the Security ITM.


50.     We are off to a good start. Let us continue to work together for the industry, and for the safety and security of Singapore, and at the heart of it all, our security officers as well.


51.     Thank you very much.


Security Industry