Current Affairs

Less reliance on manpower, greater use of technology, part of security Industry Transformation Map


SINGAPORE: About S$10 million will be invested over the next three years to help the security industry become less manpower-reliant and more technologically advanced under an industry transformation map (ITM) launched on Tuesday (Feb 12).

The blueprint lays out the restructuring plans for the security sector, which supports the Home Team in protecting the many buildings in Singapore. The industry comprises some 47,000 security officers, 600 service providers and 240 security agencies at present. 

Unveiled by Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo, the ITM was developed by the Home Affairs Ministry (MHA), in partnership with industry associations, security agencies, the labour movement, service buyers and various government agencies.


As part of the roadmap, MHA will be tapping on new technologies.

“Technology and innovation can transform how security functions are performed, and the job of a security officer,” said Mrs Teo in her address.

Citing the use of CCTVs and video analytics, Mrs Teo said such technologies could replace routine duties of security officers and help them do more.

“For large-scale premises, advanced analytics that use machine learning can already be used to help detect abnormal activities. This enables fewer officers to oversee a larger, and more complex area. Instead of continuous patrolling, they can also focus on making judgments and responding to incidents,” she said.

To support small and medium enterprises new to these technologies, an Industry Digital Plan (IDP) covering step-by-step guidance on digital solutions will be launched by mid-year. Various funding supports will also be made available for firms to implement the plan. 


A second strategy is to get buyers to adopt a “smarter” approach when procuring security services. This would involve thorough risk assessment, and tender specification that are designed to the buyers’ desired security outcomes, rather than headcount.

“Many buyers of security services still do not have the practice of conducting risk assessments before they call for tender. Typically, they use the same tender specifications that have been in place for years,” said Mrs Teo.

“Most often, they ask for the same number of guards as the previous contract, not knowing whether it is optimal,” she added.

When buyers know their security needs, service providers would then be able to “propose solutions that combine technology and manpower effectively”, Mrs Teo explained.

MHA is also hoping buyers would build long-term partnerships with their security providers, instead of a short-term contract, which is the norm at the moment.

Current practice has “unhelpful consequences”, noted Mrs Teo. “This means that service providers have not much time to recoup investments, even if they are willing to bear the upfront risks.”

“The relationship with buyers is transactional, with little room for building trust,” she added.

Hence, the government will be taking the lead to change things with most government agencies adopting outcome-based contracts by 2020 under the ITM.


To raise the standards of security officers, SAGE – which is a mandatory assessment for security agencies – will also be revised from this year to focus on security outcomes and technology adoption.

For example, previous grading criteria looked at whether Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been put in place for different security situations, such as bomb threats. With the revised assessment, officers would now need to be able to explain the SOPs and prove that they can execute them.

Along with the changes, a Skills Framework for Security was also launched on Tuesday to help point the way forward for security officers to gain higher skills and earn better wages.

The framework, published in the form of a guidebook, outlines the sector’s career progression pathways and the existing and emerging skills and competencies required for the job roles.

One new career pathway identified is security consultancy. To develop expertise in the area, a deal was inked between MHA and Temasek Polytechnic at the event. 

The new Specialist Diploma in Security Consultancy is a one-year part-time course and will be offered from April 2019.

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