Applications of facial recognition technology being explored by Singapore Government

Applications of facial recognition technology being explored by Singapore Government

Above photo: Automated boarding gate using facial recognition at Terminal 4, Changi Airport/ Credit: Changi Airport Group

Last week, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) Singapore revealed
a new innovative solution for security screening at bases, developed by a team
of personnel from the Republic of Singapore Navy and DSTA Defence Science
and Technology Agency, through a post on its
Facebook page
.  Called “Smart Base
Access”, the solution uses a smartphone app and Facial Recognition Technology
to expedite visitor security screening when entering Singapore Armed Forces

This system can help create manpower savings. For example,
security troopers responsible for performing security checks can be redeployed
to other areas to bolster security in those places, while visitors can get into
camps more conveniently and wastage of time will be reduced.  The team was
awarded prototype funding at the first Public Service Innovation Challenge held
on October 24. The pilot trial is expected to be conducted at RSS Singapura –
Changi Naval Base in the first quarter of 2018.

Facial recognition is one of the key applications of
Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. The technology has matured
significantly during the past few years. It can have wide range of
applications, in areas where detection or authentication of individuals is
required. In China,
the technology is being used for payments, check-in
at airports
, catching
on the street or criminals
attending a beer festival
, campus security
and more.

As Singapore forges ahead on its Smart Nation journey, this
technology could play a key role. We take a look here at how the Singapore
Government is exploring facial recognition technology.

National Digital Identity (NID) framework

The NID framework,
aims to enable citizens and businesses to transact digitally in a convenient
and secure manner, is one of the strategic
smart nation projects
. The current
National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) system is primarily analogue, a card
which people carry in their wallets containing personal information,
information which resides in government databases. The government wants to
create a secure digital identification system and have the infrastructure made
available not just for government, but the private sector as well. 

In response to a
parliamentary query on October 3, regarding the application of biometric
elements in the new digital identity system, Senior Minister of State for
Communications and Information and Education, Dr. Janil Puthucheary replied
that the Government is exploring various forms of biometric technologies
such as facial recognition, to enhance the security for identification,
authentication and authorisation.

Dr. Puthucheary said, “We are particularly interested in
form factors that make it convenient for the elderly, the young and the
disabled to use and benefit from the NDI. Smart Nation must serve all segments
of the population.”

Terminal 4 at Changi Airport

At the newly opened Terminal 4 (T4) at
Singapore’s Changi Airport, facial recognition technology has been incorporated
into a suite of Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST)

The Automated
Immigration Gates (AIG) are using a dual facial and thumbprint
biometric recognition system, enhancing the automated lanes currently
being used at existing terminals which use thumbprints.

At the Automated
Boarding Gates (ABG), passengers only need to scan their boarding pass at the
boarding gate, and authenticate their identity by taking a photo. The facial
recognition system matches this photo against the photo taken earlier at the

Facilitating use of facial recognition in the economy

In the opening
at the Public Service
Conference 2017, on October 2, Mr. Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education (Higher
Education and Skills), Mr. Ong talked about testing being done in China
for the use of facial recognition systems for financial services, including ATM

He also said, “By
the end of the year, the iPhone X will be released with facial recognition
capabilities. Some of you may have seen how Changi Terminal 4 (T4), which is
opening at the end of this month, will use facial recognition for checking in
for airlines. There are various reasons hotels have not adopted this technology
for check-ins. But what we want to ensure is that it is not our own rules that
trip it up.”

So, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will be working with
the hotel industry to come up with suitable prototypes. The Ministry of Home
Affairs (MHA) is supporting the effort by creating a sandbox, a little “white
space”, to enable hotels to test-bed such technologies.