Smart security monitoring system being tested at malls under $2.5 million innovation drive for security sector

Mrs Josephine Teo speaking at the opening of the Security Industry Conference at Marina Bay Sands, on Wednesday (Oct 3).
Mrs Josephine Teo speaking at the opening of the Security Industry Conference at Marina Bay Sands, on Wednesday (Oct 3).ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - An automated surveillance monitoring system that flags unusual activities such as fights has been deployed at seven shopping malls - as part of a $2.5 million innovation drive to help the security industry modernise.

This project is one of four pilots supported by the Government, in its bid to help firms develop solutions to meet increasing demand for security services fuelled by the heightened security threat and growing number of buildings islandwide.

Security firms face challenges in meeting this demand as a result of their manpower intensive operating models and stiff competition for workers, said Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo on Wednesday (Oct 3).

"There is an urgent need to re-imagine how security services are delivered to meet these challenges. Having more manpower alone is not the answer," Mrs Teo, who is also Manpower Minister, said at the opening of the Security Industry Conference at Marina Bay Sands.

"Instead, we need to deliver more intelligent solutions that use technology to augment manpower so that one person can do the job of many, more effectively and potentially, with better conditions and higher pay," she said.

Besides adopting technology, there is also a need to move away from an "output-based" contracting model, where buyers simply spell out the number of guards they need, to one based on outcomes, she added.

This will give security agencies more flexibility to meet customers' needs using both automation and manpower, said Mrs Teo.

Noting that the current approach leaves little room for security firms to do more than provide manpower, in turn fuelling low awareness of technology available, she added: "If we do not break this cycle, the industry's ability to innovate will always be limited by rigid headcount requirements."

The Government will take the lead in adopting outcome-based security contracts, with most agencies doing so by 2020, said Mrs Teo. Some, such as the Housing Board and Education Ministry, are prepared to start the switch before mid-2019.

"In total, security contracts from government agencies amount to over $350 million every year, or about one-fifth of annual industry demand," she said. "We hope this will create momentum and encourage private sector service buyers to also adopt outcome-based security contracts."

To help the sector adapt, training will be provided for private sector procurement and security officers, with a new course involving the Security Industry Institute set to have its first run next month.

The authorities will also ensure that there is a ready pipeline of new technologies that can be incorporated into new, outcome-based contracts, said Mrs Teo.

For example, another of the pilots from the Government's call for innovative solutions earlier this year involves a cloud platform where buyers can track their security agencies' performance.

"This platform will make it even easier for service buyers to administer outcome-based security contracts," said Mrs Teo.