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Singapore: Automated Sample Collection and Screening System for Prisons

The Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) in collaboration with the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), has created PASS (Prison Automated Screening System), an automated toilet that uses robotics, sensors, and deep learning to collect urine samples and screen them for illicit drugs.

PASS is HTX’s attempt to automate the urine procurement and screening process in a fully unsupervised and hygienic manner, a press statement by HTX wrote. The technology is currently on a proof-of-concept trial until February 2024, with four units deployed at the Selarang Park Community Supervision Centre.

Biometrics technology is used for a seamless registration process for supervisees when they arrive for the screening. This enables the system to be fully contactless and unsupervised. Other features include an automatic door, a urinal shutter, and sensors that ensure that the user provides the urine sample at the right time with all steps conducted in the right sequence. The supervisee waits in the cubicle for the test result, which takes about five minutes.

The statement said that the system is user-friendly, and an instructional video is played inside the cubicle, which guides users through the entire process. Behind the cubicle is a specially designed robotic gantry system that handles the test kits. Technology safeguards and deep learning aid in detecting and preventing tampering, ensuring the testing is accurate, consistent, and free from contamination.

The project was conceptualised at the end of 2019 and required a bit of experimentation as there were no existing examples to follow. The system and user experience will continue to be refined, for instance, HTX is considering screening short sitcom videos in the cubicle to include some entertainment while the test result is processed.

SPS plans to deploy PASS nationwide. Supervisees could save time and resources by travelling to a more convenient location for their urine supervision. They would also be better able to focus on their reintegration journey, maintaining a lifestyle free from drugs, the statement noted. PASS can be decentralised to different parts of Singapore and supervisees would be able to go to any of the reporting centres at their convenience, even after working hours, with less disruption to their lives.

Over the years, SPS has been pushing for the use of digital platforms and technology to help rehabilitate prisoners and better reintegrate former offenders into society. As OpenGov Asia reported, in 2019, SPS outlined several ways it is digitising prison administration and rehabilitation. For instance, SPS assesses the type of intervention each offender will require through video-counselling sessions. These sessions complement existing modes of communication and reduce travelling time and expenses for ex-offenders.

Furthermore, Housing Units (HUs) maintain inmate discipline and order using CCTVs and are supported by the Command, Control, Communication, Computer and Intelligence Management System (C4i). The C4i interacts with multiple systems to extract critical data and facilitate information flows between officers in the control centre and officers on the ground. Full digital CCTV coverage also enables officers to shift from routine guarding duties to focus on more value-adding work, such as inmate engagement.

The Intelligence-Driven Dynamic Security (IDDS) operating model is another core component of the HU that harnesses data in the operations and rehabilitation processes. SPS uses data analytics to enhance its surveillance systems and risk management capabilities, translating intelligence into usable and actionable information that helps officers on the ground make more informed operational decisions.

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