Singapore has launched its new Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX). This new agency is set to be Singapore’s leading science and technology agency for homeland security.
Under its wings, it has already been working innovations which are centred to improve the capabilities and procedures of various Home Team departments. Its two prominent innovations are the advanced fingerprint testing and a life-saving robotic dog.
Advanced fingerprint testing
This new fingerprinting method is able to extract detailed information such as the gender and ethnicity of an individual. It can also generate information such as whether the person had handled narcotics or explosives.
HTX had collaborated with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to create this new method of fingerprint testing. Its accuracy level allows for it to also work on smudged, low-quality and invisible fingerprints on the surface.
It uses a new nanopowder formulation and an improved method of analysing via mass spectrometry. The fingerprint will be dusted and lifted and following that be fed into a mass spectrometer. Residues are then detected and identified accordingly.
This new method of fingerprint testing will be used in the next one to two years. There are plans for widening the horizon to enhance the technique to provide more details into an individual’s way of living.
HTX has said that this technique will follow through automated protocols for processing and analysing data derived from the fingerprint tests.
This will allow for Home Team officers to collect specific information which they require on their own without having to seek the assistance of forensic officers.
HTX has said that it is one of the few security agencies in the world to be conducting such research efforts.
Disaster rescue efforts can expect to have a useful aid with them in the future. HTX is looking into creating two biologically inspired robots to be first responders for helping out in rescue missions.
These robots include a four-legged robotic dog that has capabilities such as thermal cameras and sensors for mapping its surroundings and to detect signs of life at a much a faster pace.
Called the Rover-X robotic dog, it can go through various terrains and climb stairs autonomously. Minimal human operator intervention is required for monitoring the movement of the robot.
This allows for the inspection of heavily damaged and dangerous areas which are inaccessible to humans.
A Life Detection Robot which has the capability of crawling through condensed debris and rubble is also being experimented with.
This robot features sensors, a thermal camera to detect heat signatures, high-definition cameras and a microphone. It also comes with an on-board laser range finder that can produce three-dimensional maps to assist rescuers in determining the route to take for carrying out rescue efforts.
HTX’s scientists and engineers will be working closely with Home Team, who will be onsite, to have a clear understanding of their challenges and be better able to support their needs.
Mobile Drone Fighter
HTX has created a XENTINEL mobile response vehicle to aid officers in handling drone threats. This innovation can detect drones up to 1km away. It requires just one officer to manage it and it can be deployed in a matter of minutes.
The traditional method requires a team of officers to be equipped with drone jammer guns and be sent out within the area of the disaster location. It, however, requires a lot of manpower and important resources for bigger areas.
The XENTINEL will be ready for operational trials with the police force over the next few months. Completion of the development of the vehicle and trial evaluation is expected to be completed within a year.
Called the Digital Forensic Kiosk, this scanner is to help frontline officers who are untrained in forensics to review electronic devices and media for collecting evidence and create leads at a much quicker pace.
Designed to be a self-service kiosk, it is catered towards non-technical users. Its functions include extracting content from devices such as mobile phones and storage media for officers to scan for potential evidence.
DIGEST, a novel digital evidence search tool, will be used for automating the forensic processing of big data sets. It internalises and processes data, which is need for examination, enabling a user-friendly interface for officers to use, and to create customised reports.
HTX is also working on other innovations such as a new method for analysing small quantities of DNA at a rate which is 90 percent faster than traditional methods.
It is also working on developing a command and control centre that enables the autonomous flying of drones beyond line of sight to for public safety monitoring and as well as delivering supplies during search and rescue missions.
HTX consists of 13 centres that are individually focused on areas such as robots, automation and unmanned systems, biometrics and profiling, cybersecurity, data processing, and artificial intelligence (AI).