Singapore to beef up police tech capabilities

Singapore government singles out biometrics, data analytics and digital forensics as promising areas to boost crime-fighting efforts

Singapore is stepping up efforts to increase its use of technology to tackle security threats arising from growing global connectivity.

Speaking at Interpol World 2019 today, Josephine Teo, Singapore’s second minister for home affairs and manpower minister, said there were more than 4.3 billion air travellers in 2018, and this figure is expected to double in two decades.

“On its busiest day, Changi International Airport already handles more than 220,000 passengers,” she said. “When that swells to half a million, how do we manage the heightened security risks and still provide the experience of a world-class air hub? Must we give up one for the other?”

Calling for better policing efforts, Teo highlighted three areas of technological innovation in international crime-fighting that hold promise – biometrics, data analytics and digital forensics.

Singapore, for one, is already conducting trials on contactless immigration clearance systems that use iris and facial recognition to enforce border security, said Teo, adding that facial recognition can also be deployed to identify criminal suspects within borders.

Highlighting the role of data analytics in predicting crimes before they occur, Teo cited efforts by the Dutch police to test the use of sensors that measure noise levels, even emotional tones, in people’s voices.

“Can this trigger when police should proactively intervene to moderate crime risks?” she said. “The test is ongoing. If it works, police resources can be better targeted.”

And with the expected proliferation of the internet of things (IoT), Teo said the police now need to extract and analyse evidence from the latest IoT devices using digital forensics.

“We will need R&D into new investigative tools and techniques,” she said. “Otherwise, criminals will get ahead in their attempts to mask or destroy digital evidence and hide their identities.”

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Other areas that Singapore is looking into include using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and robots to augment the work of police officers, as well as the formation of a new science and technology agency to meet the needs of law enforcement and civil defence officers.

But Singapore is not doing all this alone. It partners with other countries through the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) located in the city-state to share information and pool resources to coordinate transnational responses.

In a cyber crime operation in 2017, the IGCI uncovered nearly 9,000 command and control (C2) servers and hundreds of compromised websites across the ASEAN region.

Experts from seven companies – Trend Micro, Cyber Defence Institute, Booz Allen Hamilton, British Telecom, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks and Kaspersky – also took part in pre-operational meetings.

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