Photo of police footage from Singapore Police

In Parliament’s session yesterday (Feb 6), Parliament Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said that the Singapore government will be doubling special-features police cameras to 6,000 after 5,000 new cameras are expected to complete installation by 2020. Over 2,500 public areas are currently being monitored, including public walkways, HDB void decks and open spaces. The PAP MP also revealed that the government has a new software that can automatically detect public gathering and protests:

“When police cameras were introduced in 2012, they were installed at Housing Board blocks and multi-storey carparks. The expansion of the scheme in 2016 under PolCam 2.0 took these cameras to a wider range of common areas. Cameras used for PolCam 2.0 include those able to detect anomalous events. These include public order situations like persons fighting, and sudden congregation or dispersal of crowds.”

The new software PolCam 2.0 is expected to have facial recognition functions and run better search algorithm that can monitor a person’s daily schedule in public places.

According to Straits Times in 2016, there are already 62,000 cameras running on the older software PolCam 1.0.

When questioned by Opposition MP Pritam Singh whether if the government will abuse the police camera network, MP Amrin Amin said that Singaporeans should trust the government and it’s “strict protocols”:

“There are strict protocols ensuring that access to police camera footage is tightly controlled.”

The PAP MP claimed that the police will only use the cameras to assist in criminal investigations. However, any public protest held without an approval from the Singapore Police is considered “criminal” in nature. Singaporeans who have anti-PAP political views are expected to be monitored by the dictatorship.