Singapore

Face, fingerprint scans to be at all immigration checkpoints by 2025

Border security one of Singapore's five key artificial intelligence projects

Security clearance at all immigration checkpoints in Singapore will be fully automated with fingerprint, facial and iris scans by 2025, as part of the nation's plan to harness artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to deliver social and economic benefits.

Border security was one of five key national AI projects announced yesterday. The projects are part of Singapore's new national AI strategy unveiled by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking at the Singapore FinTech Festival and Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology conference yesterday, he said: "Countries will need to keep pace with technology and harness it to tackle common challenges and national priorities."

Apart from border security, the other four AI projects are in logistics, healthcare, education and estate management, said the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office.

The five projects were chosen as they can deliver quick results and have a high social and economic impact.

Using AI at the borders will mean a faster and more seamless experience for travellers when clearing immigration checks.

The process will reduce human error and allow immigration officers working at manned counters to focus on higher-value work, which includes focusing on visitors who may require closer scrutiny.

FULLY AUTOMATED

The fully automated system at Changi Airport Terminal 4, for example, which uses a facial recognition system that captures a passenger's photo at different stations, was reported to achieve manpower and efficiency savings of up to 20 per cent.

For the healthcare project, an AI system dubbed Selena+ will be deployed across Singapore by 2022 to help detect eye conditions, including diabetic eye disease, more quickly and accurately.

Speaking about the healthcare project, Mr Heng said there is "great potential for AI to be applied to the prediction, detection and management of chronic diseases" as many senior citizens may be unaware of their medical conditions.

A new National AI Office has also been created under the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office to set priorities and help build a pipeline of AI talent. The announcements signal the importance the nation is putting on AI, which has disrupted and transformed lives across many sectors.

Singapore has committed more than $500 million to digital technologies including AI under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan.

To boost AI talent here, Singapore also aims to train 25,000 professionals in basic AI coding and implementation by 2025.

In January, Singapore also released a framework, believed to be Asia's first, on how AI can be ethically and responsibly used.

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