More police cameras to be installed islandwide as Home Team taps tech to enhance ops

Since 2012, almost 90,000 police cameras have been installed in major public locations.
Since 2012, almost 90,000 police cameras have been installed in major public locations.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Singapore will install more police cameras islandwide in the next few years, as the Home Team continues to use technology to enhance its operations.

Describing such cameras as a "game changer", Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam revealed on Monday (March 1) that they have helped solve more than 4,900 cases here as of last December.

Since 2012, almost 90,000 police cameras have been installed in major public locations, housing estates, neighbourhood centres and carparks, he said during the debate on the Ministry of Home Affairs' (MHA) budget.

"Surveys have shown that people feel safer with the prominent placement of police cameras in their neighbourhoods. In the next several years, more cameras will be installed across the island," he said, adding that this will depend on the country's budget situation.

In his speech, Mr Shanmugam set out various initiatives by Home Team agencies to tap technology as its manpower needs grow.

He said the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) has been developing expertise in data centres and cloud-based technology, and will expand the scope of a security operations centre that provides round-the-clock protection for systems and networks here.

He noted that the HTX will need to hire a few hundred scientists and engineers over the next few years, while the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will need more ambulances and officers to attend to the growing number of medical emergencies.

The police will also need to expand the deployment of their quick-response teams to patrol locations in Singapore with high footfall, so that they can swiftly respond to armed terrorist attacks.

More investigation officers will also be needed because of the current high workload and increasingly complex cases.

Hiring more officers will help manage the amount of work, said Mr Shanmugam in response to Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok). He added: "Police are currently undertaking an internal review of their systems, processes and structures so that investigators receive better support."

The police and the Central Narcotics Bureau are also digitalising their investigation and case management systems, said Mr Shanmugam.

This entails automating and streamlining these systems so that officers can access information and update cases on the go, saving them time on handling paperwork and administrative tasks.

The SCDF will make greater use of sensors and automation to help with manpower management, operation response and decision-making.

The new Punggol Fire Station, which is still under construction, will be the first of the force's next-generation smart fire stations with these features.

To reduce the stigma on prison inmates in the community, the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) is developing a tracking device that looks like a digital watch to replace the current ankle tag.

This comes as the SPS allows more inmates to serve the tail end of their sentences in the community.

Mr Shanmugam said this new device, which is more discreet, aims to help supervisees reintegrate into society as they abide by curfews and movement restrictions.

SPS is also developing a mobile app for inmates in the community to reinforce their learning and rehabilitation, he added.