Leveraging tech to fight terror and crime

The SCDF's unmanned firefighting machine can venture deep into dangerous areas. It is an example of how the Home Team is using technology.
The SCDF's unmanned firefighting machine can venture deep into dangerous areas. It is an example of how the Home Team is using technology.THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO

A new digital forensic kiosk will help police solve cases involving smartphones and laptops more quickly, in a move to keep law enforcement ahead of the game as digital crime soars.

The kiosk will allow officers to retrieve, organise and analyse information from digital devices more efficiently, Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo said yesterday in the debate on her ministry's budget.

The number of criminal cases involving digital media "has gone up manifold", noted Mrs Teo, who said technology will be used extensively to transform the Home Team.

Laboratories at borders are equipped with state-of-the art systems that can test for multiple biological threats in three hours, compared with 12 hours previously, under a bio-surveillance programme that has been in place since 2009.

The programme is meant to fight biological attacks, which terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda have sought to develop, said Mrs Teo.

"A biological attack will be hard to detect," she said, noting its potential to cause widespread panic if it spread.

Technology also reduces the time spent on routine tasks and cuts the number of dangerous situations personnel are exposed to, she said.

For example, the Singapore Civil Defence Force has been using its unmanned firefighting machine, which can venture deep into dangerous areas.

The machine is able to shoot giant jets of water and has been "very useful" in fighting major fires in industrial areas such as Sungei Kadut, Jurong Island and Tuas, said Mrs Teo.

"It is remotely controlled... much less risky than deploying our officers," she added.

On redesigning jobs, Mrs Teo said the ministry will invest in training to enable officers to perform their roles more effectively.

Jobs at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority are expected to change after two radiographic imaging scanners are installed at Tuas Checkpoint.

The scanners look out for anomalies such as hidden compartments in all arriving buses.

As a result, officers will be freed to perform targeted checks based on scans instead of manual inspection of the buses, which is time consuming and possibly less effective, Mrs Teo said.

In a boost for the private security sector, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Temasek Polytechnic will jointly offer a new specialist diploma in security consultancy next year, Mrs Teo said. It aims to train 250 consultants by 2021.

Last month, Mrs Teo launched an industry transformation plan for the security sector meant to deepen workers' skillsets, improve their conditions and to increase the sector's productivity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2018, with the headline 'Leveraging tech to fight terror and crime'. Print Edition | Subscribe