Unmanned aerial vehicles to help police control crowds during countdown party

Hundreds of officers to be deployed at countdown party, aided by technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles

Officers from the Police Tactical Unit of the Special Operations Command on patrol in Raffles Place yesterday. They are among the specialist police units on patrol in the city area as Singapore prepares to ring in the new year.
Officers from the Police Tactical Unit of the Special Operations Command on patrol in Raffles Place yesterday. They are among the specialist police units on patrol in the city area as Singapore prepares to ring in the new year.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Officers from the Police Tactical Unit of the Special Operations Command on patrol in Raffles Place yesterday. They are among the specialist police units on patrol in the city area as Singapore prepares to ring in the new year.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Gregory Tan

As Marina Bay and venues close to the waterfront prepare for the annual countdown to the new year, officers from specialist police units are stepping up their presence and patrols in the city area.

These include Emergency Response Teams, who are trained in public security and counter-terrorism, and the Police Tactical Unit of the Special Operations Command, who are trained to deal with public order incidents.

They join about 700 officers from the Central and Jurong police divisions, Traffic Police, Public Transport Security Command and Police Coast Guard who will be deployed at the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2020 next Tuesday to ensure the safety and security of the public, and to manage crowds.

The officers will be aided by the latest technology, the police said yesterday in an update on their preparations for the annual celebrations.

The police will deploy an improved version of their unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as well as their multi-purpose all terrain autonomous robot (M.A.T.A.R.) 3.0.

The robot, a variant of which made its debut at the Asean Summit in November last year at Suntec City, will be stationed at the Helix Bridge.

It is outfitted with an extendable pan-tilt zoom camera that provides video coverage up to a height of 2m, to achieve better situational awareness and observe anomalous activities remotely.

As for the UAVs, they are equipped with blinkers, search lights and audio warning systems with pre-recorded messages.

This year's improvement to the device sees extended flight time and possible live messages from the police instead of just pre-recorded ones.

According to the police, the robot and UAV are tools to better manage the crowd, achieve better surveillance, and enable officers to make important announcements to the public during crowd dispersal.

The police are also engaging private-hire vehicle companies to ensure that they are aware of the road closures and diversions during the country's largest countdown event.

 
 
 

Assistant Commissioner of Police Gregory Tan said: "There are many factors that go into our security planning, the infrastructure, the events happening and the number of people coming down. It is important that we manage the crowd well."

The public are advised to cooperate with the police and security personnel during checks on their bags and personal items.

The police also reminded the public to remain vigilant and look after their belongings at all times, stay close to their friends or move around in groups, avoid contact with unruly crowds and approach any police officer or dial 999 for urgent assistance.

People are also reminded not to engage in activities that may annoy others or compromise their safety.

To prevent overcrowding, police officers and auxiliary police officers will also regulate the number of people entering The Promontory, One Fullerton/Merlion Park, Esplanade Park, Esplanade Waterfront Promenade, Marina Bay Sands Promenade and other areas within the vicinity of Marina Bay.

In the event of overcrowding, certain exits of MRT stations around Marina Bay may be closed and crowds diverted to other areas.

Members of the public are advised to follow the instructions of marshals and officers on duty, and to be patient as crowds disperse after the event.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2019, with the headline 'Police boost presence in Marina Bay area ahead of New Year countdown'. Subscribe