EYES IN THE SKY: POLICE DRONES ARE IN THE ZONE

Written by Zachary Tan

The sky’s the limit

On 11 Apr, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) rolled out what it calls the Sky Aerial Response Command (Sky ARC), a fleet of vehicles capable of carrying high-tech drones to support police activities across the island. It is part of an effort by the SPF to become a ‘smarter’ organisation, employing technologies such as smart glasses to perform facial recognition and interactive robots to increase student outreach. They were unveiled last December as part of a showcase of the advanced security coverage deployed during the new year celebrations.

 

More than just a bird’s eye view

Along with some impressive specifications, the new police drones come with an array of modifications. These additional functions include devices designed for a variety of different mission types. For example, the drone possesses thermal imaging technology and can be outfitted with a 16,000 lumen searchlight for search and rescue operations. In another scenario, an integrated audio system is capable of sending pre recorded messages and emit a loud siren in the event of a public incident. Additionally, the drone’s high definition camera possesses the ability to observe and record objects at long distances, with a live feed to their command-and-control center. Due to the sensitive nature of surveillance and privacy, the SPF will have to comply with existing government policies on data protection and private information.

 

Field-tested

Back in Oct 2018, the drones were deployed in an actual field test to track down illegal immigrants and contraband goods. They were used to monitor the forested areas near the Bukit Timah Expressway, where their hideout was identified, in the event of potential runaways. Here, the thermal imaging capabilities were useful to look out for human activity under the thick vegetation, especially since the operation was at night.

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