Singapore to pilot smart city facial recognition project

Singapore government agency GovTech is planning to perform crowd analytics with facial analysis from a “Lamppost-as-a-Platform” (LaaP) pilot project, Reuters reports.

“As part of the LaaP trial, we are testing out various kinds of sensors on the lampposts, including cameras that can support backend facial recognition capabilities,” a GovTech spokesperson told Reuters in an email. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last week he did not want the project to be overbearing, intrusive, or unethical. The GovTech spokesperson added: “The need to protect personal data and preserve privacy are key considerations in the technical implementation of the project.”

Last year the former head of Singapore’s civil service Peter Ong said the country wants to deploy the technology to all 110,000 lampposts in the country.

When asked for comment by Reuters, Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Staff Attorney Adam Schwartz urged Singapore’s government and governments in general not to adopt facial recognition surveillance technology, expressing concerns it could be used to target political opposition and peaceful protest.

The system is intended to perform crowd analytics and support follow-up investigations in the event of a terrorism incident. Ian Wilson, security lecturer at Murdoch University in Australia said that the level of crime and threat of terrorism in Singapore are not as high as in cities like New York and London, according to Reuters.

Singapore’s opposition Worker’s Party declined to comment on the project.

Among those reported to be considering bids are a partnership including Yitu Technology, which recently opened a sales office in Singapore, and a partnership including Singapore-based Xjera Labs. A spokesperson for SenseTimesaid it is “Exploring the situation.” Singapore’s state investor Temasek participated in SenseTime’s recent $600 million funding round.

A recent survey showed a notably high level of consumer acceptance and use of biometrics.

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