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    Apr 07, 2016

    Govt to use ERP data to fight terrorism

    LAW enforcement agencies here will begin using data from public transport video cameras and the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system to track travel patterns of suspicious individuals.

    Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam revealed this during his Ministry's Committee of Supply debate in Parliament yesterday, when he outlined efforts to boost the Home Team's intelligence and investigation capabilities.

    He has said that the threat of a terror attack on Singapore is at its highest level in recent times.

    To deal with the threat, MHA will enhance Singapore's intelligence sharing with foreign agencies.

    It will also beef up the nation's community response by introducing a community initiative, SG Secure.

    This national programme will "sensitise the community to threats arising from terrorism, extremism and religious or racial strife", said Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin.

    It will be rolled out later this year, starting with schools and neighbourhoods, he added.

    Yesterday, the call to use traffic camera and ERP data also caused some concern in the House.

    MP Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) and NMP Kok Heng Leun both asked how the Government would ensure data collected would not be misused.

    Mr Shanmugam noted that although some of his Cabinet colleagues had previously taken the position that such data would not be used, "in this heightened threat environment, we have to use all available resources at our disposal".

    "The Home Team must be able to collect and analyse suspicious travel patterns, and respond swiftly and decisively for our collective security," he said.

    "If we don't rely on the existing data, then we have to spend taxpayers' money to redo the entire infrastructure to look at how people move because that's one of the ways in which you now analyse patterns, apart from other data."

    He added that MHA will set up a framework to ensure data was not misused, and punish those caught using data inappropriately.

    "But that does not therefore lead to the conclusion that because there's a possibility of abuse, we don't collect the data or use it in the first place," he said, adding that this would leave law enforcement without tools to prevent an impending attack or respond to one in its aftermath.

    He noted that in the wake of the Paris attacks in November, the authorities were able to study movements of the attackers through cameras that caught their movements.

    In that vein, the police would invest heavily to extend camera surveillance to public areas, such as town and neighbourhood centres, pedestrian walkways linking HDB blocks, bus interchanges and MRT stations, he said.