Singapore needs data-driven approach to safety, says Home Minister

Analytics to anticipate emergencies and deploy frontline resources.

Singapore needs a new operating model centred on using data to make decisions on public safety, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said yesterday during his post-budget Committee of Supply speech. “We need an operating model to enhance our operational effectiveness and manage our workload. We need to use technology,” he said. “The Home Team needs to be data-driven, tiered and differentiated in its frontline response,” he said, referring to the country’s group of 10 agencies responsible for public safety. The country will use analytics to identify crime hotspots, predict emergencies and deploy police resources. “This means employing data analytics to anticipate ahead of time where safety and security emergencies might arise, and intelligently deploy our resources to focus on those hotspots,” Minister Shanmugam said. “The end result will be more resources into higher priority areas for a faster response time,” he added. The ministry will use data from video cameras on public transport and its electronic road pricing system to analyse “suspicious travel patterns”, he said, in a change to the government’s previous stance on such data use. The “heightened threat environment” now means that “we have to change the position on not using such data”, Shanmugam said. “The Home Team will use all intelligence and investigation tools available and make better use of available data,” he added. The country is also using data to try and keep people out of prisons. It can identify people who are likely to commit crimes, allowing the government to take steps earlier. “Today there is data that shows what is the likelihood of someone offending at a young age. The fact that someone drops out of school is usually an indicator, and there are other indicators,” he said. Image from Minister Shanmugam's Facebook page.