Home Team Science and Technology Excellence Awards

10 bag prizes for projects to help security agencies

Hologram to help tourists clear immigration is one winning idea

Travellers entering Singapore may one day find themselves welcomed by a hologram guiding them as they clear immigration while simultaneously assessing if they display malicious intent.

This is among the projects teams within the Ministry of Home Affairs are working on, to aid the work of Home Team agencies such as the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

Dr Naresh Kumar, director at the Office of the Chief Science and Technology Officer (OCSTO), is leading some of the teams, alongside technical partners and scientists. He was one of 10 winners at the first Home Team Science and Technology Excellence Awards, given out last Thursday.

"It is about understanding human limits, potential... and designing systems that are compatible with people. Physical and cognitive compatibility is important," said Dr Kumar, who received an innovation and development award.

He added that while it may be best to transfer systematic tasks to computers, supervisory roles are best left to people, who are able to make decisions with flexibility.

Dr Kumar's other projects include the automated biometric and behavioural screening suite, which has been deployed at key large-scale events and at the bus hall at Woodlands Checkpoint since 2012. It is able to recognise vehicle numbers automatically, spot unattended baggage and identify suspected criminals through facial recognition.


  • Screening Tool: Risk Allocation Technique - Re-imprisonment and Security Screening

    The Singapore Prisons Service uses this fully-automated tool to predict how likely an inmate will re-offend within two years of his release from jail.

    Developed in-house, the risk scoring tool was implemented in May last year.

    Hybrid Fire Medical Vehicle

    This new vehicle combines the fire and rescue capabilities of a light fire attack vehicle and the medical treatment facilities in an ambulance cabin.

    Launched in May last year, it allows the Singapore Civil Defence Force to deploy a single set of resources for fire and rescue cases as well as medical incidents.

    Dr Jonathan Pan, deputy director of technology futures directorate, ops-tech group, Ministry of Home Affairs

    Dr Pan's key contributions are in cyber security and artificial intelligence. He helped develop tools to simplify the analysis of computer viruses for cybercrime investigators.

    Seow Bei Yi

Other winners include a team behind a network of laboratories across Singapore - at Tuas, Woodlands and Pasir Panjang checkpoints, as well as the Home Team Academy and the Police Cantonment Complex.

The network enables agencies to detect and respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats. It can also detect narcotics.

The network began with one laboratory in 2007 and more were added as the need arose.

"On a daily basis, the scientists are rostered to be on standby," said OCSTO director for unconventional threats May Ong.

"We are activated once every two weeks in the middle of the night to go back to the lab because something suspicious was found in the checkpoint."

She added that the pool of scientists is activated not only by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, but also by other agencies such as the police.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 16, 2017, with the headline '10 bag prizes for projects to help security agencies'. Print Edition | Subscribe