Ministry of Home Affairs

Home Team Innovation Festival At Republic Polytechnic – Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs, 25 October 2011

Press Release  •  Oct 27, 2011 10:47 SGT

Distinguished Guests,

Home Team Officers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon.  

Introduction       

I am happy to be here at the Home Team InnoFest 2011. Since 2009, InnoFest has been an annual event where the Home Team comes together to celebrate and showcase safety and security innovations. Into its third year now, InnoFest has become an event where we can look forward to seeing the latest capabilities and developments in the Home Team. This year’s InnoFest features more than 50 project booths, with many resulting from collaborations between Home Team departments and local schools and institutions that we have reached out to. I am delighted that students from these schools are here with us today.

Synovation for a Safe and Secure Future         

The theme for this year’s InnoFest is “Synovation for a Safe and Secure Future”. “Synovation” is a word we created to promote our vision of the Home Team working in synergy with our community partners in our innovation efforts.           

In this regard, I am happy to say that we have been making good progress. The students and Home Team officers gathered here at Republic Polytechnic are a testament to the outreach efforts and close partnership that the Home Team has cultivated with schools.        

Today, we will also be giving out awards from three categories. First, the MHA 3i awards. 3i stands for ideas, improvement and innovation, and the MHA 3i Awards are given out annually to Home Team officers in recognition of their exemplary contributions to the 3i movement over the past year. Second, the SAFE Awards – these awards are given to school project teams for their safety and security innovations under the Security Awareness For Everyone (SAFE) programme. Finally, the Star Service Awards are given to recognise officers who deliver outstanding service to members of the public.

Closer Collaboration with Schools and External Partners           

The Security Awareness For Everyone (SAFE) programme is an important component of “synovation” in the Home Team. It aims to reach out to students of all age groups, from primary schools to tertiary institutions, to create innovative solutions that address safety and security challenges in Singapore. I am happy to note that the SAFE programme this year received more than three times the number of project submissions than last year. This is heartening as it shows that more schools are aware of the importance to stay ahead of evolving security threats and are engaged in the area of safety and security innovations.            

This year, MHA also collaborated with the National Library Board on the “Ask Stupid Questions” Innovation Challenge.  The challenge aims to get primary school students to come up with innovative safety and security solutions by asking questions.  This is a refreshing initiative as sometimes, the simplest ideas are the most powerful and the most effective. Sourcing from young minds can yield new insights and perspectives to complicated problems. I welcome this approach and look forward to viewing some of the winning projects arising from this challenge.           

I understand that ITE has also incorporated the SAFE programme into their academic curriculum. This is certainly a good effort and will go a long way towards cultivating safety and security awareness among our youths today. A whole cohort of some 300 ITE College Central’s School of Business & Services students has built websites focusing on safety and security issues such as anti-drugs and anti-crime themes, for their project modules. In the process of researching and working on the websites, the students learn and understand more about such issues, and also help spread the message to their peers. 

Innovations to Enhance Home Team Operations          

Innovation is about creating capabilities that will positively impact the future. It is only through innovation that our operations and work processes can improve over time. The Home Team has always embraced innovation to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the way we work. Let me illustrate with two examples.            

Singapore, being an island, is vulnerable to intrusion by criminals and terrorists via sea channels.   It is therefore important to ramp up all defences against such infiltrations.  In this respect, the Police Coast Guard (PCG) has developed the Remote Accoustic Intelligent Device or RAID. This is an intelligent surveillance buoy capable of detecting acoustic sound signals generated by swimmers and crafts. When deployed, it serves to provide early warnings to the PCG when individual swimmers and small boats are detected. This will definitely enhance PCG’s efforts in ensuring that our coastal waters are secure.         

Allow me to give you another example. The Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE) has found a way to cut down water usage while maintaining its massive laundry cleaning output.  SCORE serves the laundry needs of about 90% of the public and private hospitals in Singapore, and processes an average of about 42 tons of linen per day. For all these washes, SCORE needed an equivalent of 110 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water yearly. With the introduction of a water recycling plant, SCORE now uses 70% less water for its daily laundry operations, vastly reducing operating costs and markedly optimising on one of its core business functions while also being more environmentally friendly.

Conclusion          

The Home Team has done well in leveraging technology and innovation to enhance its operational capabilities. I am also happy that it is working well with external partners such as schools and the National Library Board to tap on students for fresh perspectives to old problems. I trust that the Home Team will continue to work with its community partners to push the innovation boundaries.     

On this note, I wish you all a very fruitful and enjoyable afternoon. Thank You.

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