Singapore had officially launched its new Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) on Monday, December 2.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched the new agency. He said that HTX is set to become Singapore’s leading science and technology agency for homeland security and to boost the nation’s capabilities.
Some of the technologies under its belt include advanced fingerprint testing, life-saving robotic dogs and a mobile counter-drone vehicle.
The HTX has set its aim on conducting research in areas such as biometrics and robotics, utilising the various skills and assets across the Home Team departments to create collaborations with external agencies.
Mr Lee pointed out the two challenges for achieving this – ability to attract the best engineering talent and delivering solutions that provide real operational needs.
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.
– PM Lee
He added that HTX with existing as a statutory board will have the flexibility to hire, grow and reward staff. But there will be obstacles faced in having to attract the top engineering talent.
With currently having 1,300 staff, HTX aims to grow its staff size to 2,000. “To attract top tier talent, they must feel there is something worthwhile that they can achieve,” he said.
Efforts have been made to structure engineering jobs and responsibilities to allow for engineers to produce valuable work and create an impact in the public service.
HTX will be the best platform for it as it is the place where science and technology are engineered to be used for protecting citizen lives and property, maintaining law and order and guarding Singapore.
Mr Lee added that with this drive, he hoped for more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) talent to join the agency.
The Prime Minister stated that HTX must maintain “ops-tech interface” with ground operations to ensure that HTX’s officers are connected with their uniformed partners and get information on their operating conditions and requirements.
HTX will be delegating some of its officers to Home Team departments to work alongside the uniformed officers. An example of this would be HTX forensic analysts investigating crime scenes to collect evidence, while its engineers will be stationed at major security stations.
“This will provide you with the frontline experience and feedback, to help you stay attuned to the operational tempo of the Home Team, and equip you to build solutions to meet their needs,” Mr Lee said.
Mr Lee stressed that it is crucial that Home Team view technology as an important part of operations, regardless of it is changing the current routines, as it will be productive in the long run.
He acknowledged that Home Team has made progress over the last 10 years, improving on its forensics capabilities, trialling unmanned surface vessels to patrol waters and automating immigration clearance at checkpoints.
HTX will also stand as a rich resource of information for other Government agencies to share its expertise and technology solutions.
Mr Lee said that the Government is pushing forward for advancing Singapore’s tech capabilities and to use its resources more productively. It aims to engage high-calibre officers who can provide technical solutions for operational requirements.
He emphasised the importance of understanding technology – its opportunities and limitations. Understanding this will allow for more effective decision making.