During this year’s Budget speech, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat mentioned that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be setting up a Home Team Science and Technology Agency by the end of 2019.
Dubbed HTX for short, the new agency will develop science and technology capabilities to support the Home Team’s operational needs, he said.
It will develop technology to ensure Singapore’s fundamental safety and security such as protecting lives and property, and maintaining law and order.
Some technologies that are in the works include advanced fingerprint testing that determines more than just identity, life-saving robotic dogs, and a mobile counter-drone vehicle.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at HTX’s launch event yesterday (Dec 2) that HTX has an “ambitious mandate” to conduct research in areas like biometrics and robotics, bring together capabilities from different Home Team departments, and build partnerships with external players.
Attracting Top Engineering Talent
To produce solutions that serve real operation needs, HTX would need to attract top engineering talent, noted PM Lee.
The initial team at HTX will consist of 1,300 science and technology officers from various Home Team departments, but it aims to expand to around 2,000 officers.
According to PM Lee, HTX is currently structuring engineering jobs and responsibilities to enable engineers to “do valuable work and make an impact in the public service.”
“To attract top-tier talent, they must feel there is something worthwhile that they can achieve,” he added.
As a whole, PM Lee said that the Government is making an effort to be tech-savvy and recruit high-calibre officers who can provide technical solutions for operational requirements.
In the last decade or so, PM Lee noted that the Home Team has helped to develop forensics capabilities, trialling unmanned surface vessels to patrol waters and automating immigration clearance at checkpoints.
“Beyond the Home Team, HTX can be a centre of excellence within Government, sharing experiences and solutions with other agencies that have similar needs, for instance in enforcement or regulatory work,” he said.
“For some of our most vital and sensitive projects like those in the Home Team, we must be able to build the tech solutions ourselves – solutions which are on par with, if not better than, what our partners and vendors can do.”
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