Last updated: 13 March 2023
Published on: 24 August 2018
8 MINS READ
SMEs in these two manpower-intensive industries to get help on their digital transformation journey.
By Janice Lin
To reinvigorate the Environmental Services and Security industries – two important industries here for which digital technology can help address manpower challenges and improve productivity – two industry digital plans (IDPs) were unveiled in July 2018.
These plans, which were rolled out in support of the Environment Services Industry Transformation Map (ITM) and the Security ITM unveiled on 11 December 2017 and 13 February 2018, respectively, will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the respective sectors adopt digital technology, ramp up productivity and growth, create higher-value jobs and participate in the digital economy.
The Environmental Services and Security IDPs were developed by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in partnership with the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), respectively.
They serve to provide SMEs in both industries with a step-by-step guide on the digital technologies they can adopt at each stage of their growth.
A Digital Roadmap has been laid out for each industry, to provide a reference on the type of solutions that SMEs can take up, depending on their current level of digitalisation.
Among the things they can look forward to is an online self-assessment checklist, which they can use to determine their digital readiness and, based on their business operations and expansion plans, identify areas where digital solutions can help them operate better.
This could be simple solutions such as automated visitor management system for the security industry, which will help dispense Security Agencies with manual information collection on visitor particulars, thereby minimising data entry errors and enabling security officers to focus on higher-value tasks like incident response.
Or it could be advanced technologies like autonomous waste collection robots for the Environmental Services industry, which will enable higher levels of autonomous operations for SMEs in the environmental services industry.
SMEs can also get advice from any of the SME Centres located island-wide and have easy access to pre-approved digital solutions by IMDA, helping them save time involved in sourcing reliable vendors themselves, as well as tap on the expertise of digital project managers to help with implementing the solutions.
To equip workers with skills to navigate industries that will be altered by technological transformation, the IDPs will also include a Digital Roadmap on Training, developed in partnership with SkillsFuture Singapore and institutes of higher learning, to help guide companies in identifying suitable training programmes to upgrade their workers’ skills.
Speaking at the Environmental Services IDP launch at the opening of the Clean Environment Leaders Summit on 10 July 2018, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli drew on Singapore’s water story in encouraging the industry to overcome its challenges, which include an ageing workforce and low productivity, in order to meet the nation’s zero-waste vision for a clean and liveable Singapore.
“Our water story shows us that vulnerability can be turned into strength and opportunity. We will rise above our constraints, transform and seize opportunities for green growth… We will grow a vibrant environmental services industry with good jobs for Singaporeans,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs, said at the Security Officers’ Day Awards and Security IDP launch on 18 July 2018, that the industry, which plays a crucial role in keeping Singapore safe and secure, needed to overcome its manpower shortages. Doing so means adopting digital technology to raise productivity and deliver high-quality security solutions.
“Our security officers will deliver better security, but with a leaner team. They will use more sophisticated ‘hardware’, but the key will be the ‘software’ of people and processes, which ensure technology is used in a meaningful way. Our goal must be to integrate technology, manpower and processes – in terms of how security services are provided, how they are procured, and how they are delivered by our security officers,” she said.
Video analytics guidelines
Besides the IDP, two new initiatives were also unveiled as part of the Security ITM, which will help buyers make better decisions when it comes to making purchases of video analytics systems.
One initiative is the setting up of two industry-led working groups to develop a set of guidelines on the requirements for the selection, installation, operation, maintenance and data interoperability of video analytics systems. Set to be ready by fourth quarter of 2019, the Technical Reference for Video Analytics Systems will enable buyers to make the most of their technology investments, by referring to these guidelines as “a benchmark of quality and reliability” when making their purchases, said Mrs Teo.
The working groups will be led by the Security Association of Singapore (SAS) and the Security Systems Association of Singapore (SSAS), with support from IMDA and Enterprise Singapore, and will involve various industry partners including the public sector and institutes of higher learning.
Citing the myriad applications of video analytics, which range from facial recognition to access control, SAS president Mr Raj Joshua Thomas said having guidelines for the technology would have “the greatest impact” to the Security industry.
“Much of the infrastructure already exists – many buildings and facilities already have CCTV networks, and all we have to do is to layer a software on top of it to be able to use video analytics,” he said. “By putting in standards that buyers could use in their tender specifications, we can help them be assured there will be some level of quality for the solutions that they take up.”
Enabling smarter buyers for security services
The second initiative involves changing the behaviour of service buyers, which tend to reuse the same manpower requests in their tender specifications, without consideration taken on whether that remains optimal.
As a result, the industry has remained heavily reliant on manpower. To tackle this, the Guide for Outcome-based Security Contracts, to be launched by the end of 2018, will provide principles and templates to assist service buyers in adopting contracts based on desired security outcomes rather than headcount. This will also help security firms by giving them room to innovate and create solutions that integrates technology and manpower, based on buyers’ security needs.
Additionally, to train procurement officers to become smarter buyers, the MHA, together with SkillsFuture Singapore, the Security Industry Institute and NTUC U-Care, will launch a new training programme based on the new guide by the end of the year.
The government will take the lead in adopting outcome-based security contracts, in an effort to encourage more firms to do the same. JTC Corporation and the Singapore Land Authority have adopted such contracts in recent tenders, and plans are in place for most government agencies to do likewise by 2020.
Sharing her vision of the Security industry of the future, Mrs Teo said it is one that is “vibrant and technologically advanced… where security agencies and service buyers adopt solutions that integrate technology, skilled manpower and operational processes to deliver better value and security outcomes”.
The IDPs are an ongoing initiative that aims to help SMEs in six sectors – food services, logistics, retail, wholesale trade, environmental services and security – adopt digital technology to boost growth and productivity. SMEs in these industries that require assistance will get step-by-step help on digital technologies to use, depending on which stage of the digital journey they are on.
For more information on the IDPs, visit the IDP page.