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Smart security for a smart nation

Article - November 7, 2018

Although Singapore is known around the world for its safety – it topped the 2018 Gallup Law and Order Index thanks to its citizens’ sense of personal security and positive experiences with law enforcement – like any major global city, it faces heightened security threats from crime and terrorism.


The city-state’s industrial, commercial and residential premises, as well as events, are currently looked after by about 240 security agencies, 600 security service providers and 47,000 active security officers, but given the growing number of buildings and facilities in Singapore, it is increasingly difficult for the traditionally manpower-reliant security sector to keep up.

In February this year, the Singaporean government launched the security industry transformation map (ITM). The Security ITM, led by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), seeks to transform the industry from one that is personnel-heavy to one that leverages technology and skills to deliver high-quality security solutions through an investment of about $7 million over the next three years.

As part of the government’s road map, a blueprint has been created for outcome-based security contracts, shifting the emphasis from the number of boots on the ground to the actual performance of security firms. In practice, this will mean businesses in Singapore will no longer need to specify headcount requirements in a security tender, but instead will have the ability to specify a proposed response time for a security crisis.

The initiative also seeks to provide better, more interesting work for those employed in the security sector, shifting away from laborious patrols to more highly-skilled tasks.

Established in 1997, Singaporean security firm Concorde Security Pte is working to spearhead change as part of the sector’s ITM.“The security industry has not changed much since the caveman stood guard outside his cave. The incremental change since then was to adorn guards with a uniform and various gadgets so that they look transformed. But the human lapses like sleeping on the job did not go away,” says Alan Chua, executive director.

“In the coming years, the current model of mundane security jobs like monitoring and patrolling work that is susceptible to human lapses will be replaced by a new platform based on technology solutions. This will free up precious manpower to deliver enhanced security outcomes.”

Singapore is taking a collaborative approach to overhauling the industry, with Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) partnering with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the industry at large to drive the adoption of digital solutions by SMEs operating in the sector.

As part of its focus on supporting pilot projects that have the potential to uplift the whole sector under its SMEs Go Digital programme, IMDA supported the roll-out of Concorde’s I-Man facility Sprinter (IFIS) solution. This comprises a mesh network of multiple mobile command centres with the unique security infrastructure of cameras, sensors and wireless communication equipment, providing the ability to monitor a cluster of buildings in real-time. A team of three officers operating within the vehicle monitor through automated alerts generated from the security infrastructure and respond immediately to any security incidents. Currently, the IFS is deployed at more than 140 premises. With support from IMDA, Concorde can secure 30 buildings with nine officers instead of with 30 security guards, meaning better salaries and working conditions for those it employs.

The company, which has recently transformed from a traditional security provider to a state-of-the-art technology firm, is now rolling out a series of smart technological solutions, turning the security sector on its head. Today, its officers monitor security at malls, offices and industrial complexes not just by patrolling the ground, but through virtual surveillance. And rather than physically guarding vehicles to prevent theft as goods are being unloaded, they harness behavioural analytics to detect suspicious acts.

To ensure Singapore’s security workforce has the skills required to participate in the new digital reality of the sector being led by companies such as Concorde, the Ministry of Home Affairs has signed a memorandum of understanding with Temasek Polytechnic for a new Specialist Diploma in Security Consultancy to be offered from April 2019. The programme will cover risk assessment, building security and relevant legislation, security technology, and project management, helping to bring further professionalism and capabilities into the sector.

Through bold and disruptive innovation, Concorde Security is redefining the business proposition for the whole industry, setting new standards for the security sector of the future. And with training opportunities, better wages and the adoption of technology, the company’s hope is that it will be able to draw younger and more Singaporeans - and retain them - to meet a demand that is unlikely to stop growing.