Singapore addresses borderless crimes amid global security threats

Crimes are now transnational and criminal syndicates are getting more inventive in our connected world. 

Crimes are now borderless and criminal syndicates are getting more inventive in our connected world.  Although technology is enabling global connectivity on a massive scale, bringing benefits to both businesses and people, it is also used to disrupt law and order across the globe.

Josephine Teo, Singapore’s Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs, guest of honor at the third edition of INTERPOL World, says that law enforcement also has to leverage on technology and innovation to manage heightened security risks given the transnational nature of crimes.

She says that technology is being mis-used to steal data, incapacitate systems, spread false information, and evoke negative sentiments against others.

“Good things are being used for bad aims,” says Minister Teo.

This is especially crucial at national borders where large quantity of goods and millions of people are traversing on a daily basis.

Law enforcement agencies, therefore, have to strike a delicate balance of maintaining the free flow of trade, ensuring the efficient running of the country’s economic bloodline and the need for security.

Criminals are misusing IoT technology to wreak havoc on a large scale.  They are hacking into critical infrastructure and committing cybercrimes like stealing data.

Three areas of promising crime-fighting innovation

In order to fight transnational crimes, Minister Teo mentioned three types of applicable technologies: biometrics, data analytics and digital forensics.

“Let me start with biometrics.

“In Singapore and several other airports, trials are being conducted for contactless immigration clearance systems. They use a combination of iris and facial recognition to enhance operational efficiency and security integrity at the borders.

“Within borders, biometrics has the potential to rapidly solve crime; with facial recognition technology being able to scan through thousands of video footages to identify the culprit. So that is one area of innovation that could help our work.

“Next, data analytics.

“Digitalization is allowing police agencies around the world to obtain enormous amounts of data. One can argue about the quality of the data, but the amount of data that can be collected is enormous.

“However, the data is useless without insight, and we only get insight with strong processing capabilities.

“If we can make use of the data and improve sense-making, then predictive policing can become a reality, much as predictive maintenance helps to avoid breakdowns of critical infrastructure.

“For example, in the Netherlands, the Dutch police are working on the City Pulse Project.  A network of sensors measures noise levels and even emotional tones in people’s voices.

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

“Third, forensics must also make a giant leap into the digital frontier.

“Police now need the capability to extract and analyse digital evidence from the latest Internet of Things (IOT) devices, among others.

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

“The criminals are also ahead in the game, because there is great value in them being able to exploit such loopholes in our capabilities.”

Minister Teo says that given the importance of innovation in policing, Singapore’s  Ministry of Home Affairs has made it a priority to reinforce its science and technology capabilities.

Singapore, a world-renowned safe city, has zero tolerance for crimes.  A safer world will mean a safe home and a secure future for our next generations.

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