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Singapore Home Affairs creates science and tech agency as biometrics use increases

Singapore Home Affairs creates science and tech agency as biometrics use increases

The new science and technology agency of Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs will focus on biometrics and other advanced technologies for detection and surveillance, forensics, and automated systems to provide security against terrorism as border traffic increases dramatically, Channel News Asia reports.

Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo says the number of travellers passing through checkpoints is expected to grow by 40 percent by 2025 from 212 million in 2018. She also said that the BioScreen-Multi Modal Biometrics System that includes face and iris recognition will be implemented by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) later this year to make the immigration process more efficient and secure.

The new agency will help Home Affairs support new deployments such as video analytics for the police camera network which provides real-time video feeds to the Police Operations Command Centre. The government is also considering the digitization of forensic data, using robots to fight fires, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to play a role in surveillance or search-and-rescue operations. Teo says the ministry’s direct investment in capability development is expected to grow from S$979 million (US$723 million) in fiscal 2019 to S$1.9 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2025.

Home Affairs has so far developed its capabilities in partnership with other government agencies and the private sector, according to Teo.

Singapore’s government has embraced biometrics for purposes such as prison inmate management and patient identification by first responders, while private-sector uses such as biometric payments at kiosks also seem to be flourishing.

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