Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Homeland security gadgets made in Singapore

CNA (Mar 28), "Leading homeland security experts in Singapore for conference", by Dominique Loh:
SINGAPORE : The world's leading homeland security experts have converged in Singapore for the first ever Global Security Asia conference, which begins on Tuesday. Its focus is on using technology against terrorism.
The event is big:
The inaugural Global Security Asia conference brings together the 'who's who' in the world of counter-terrorism. About 60 experts will speak on topics that cover nearly every aspect of the trends in terrorism - from land, sea, air security to Internet and computer attacks to intelligence gathering and training. More than 4,000 trade visitors will pass through the show held at the Singapore Expo.

The three day conference and trade exhibition is very much technology driven. It brings together nearly 140 exhibitors from 18 countries, each bringing with them the latest hardware and know how in counter terrorism.
Some of the highlights:
Exhibitors are putting the final touches to their booths and products - from emergency response vehicles like a SMART truck to biometric equipment to Remotely Operated Vehicles.

An exhibitor from the Netherlands even brought along a special golf ball - contained within is a unique automated sensor that detects, among other things, motion and sound. Its makers say a network of these sensors is very well suited for surveillance work.

There is even construction technology like a wall coating which can give added safety for important installations. Dr Bryan Lim, Homeland Security Engineer, ST Engineering, said, "When a wall is hit by a blast, it breaks into many pieces, but with a coating, it holds the wall together, and this level of protection is higher than a normal wall."
Cool...But the question immediately arises: "is showcasing the latest gadgetry revealing too much information to potential terror groups?" Well, "the experts and organisers disagree":
They say it is only by sharing information and working together that countries can learn from each other's capabilities and get ahead of the terrorists.
They'd better be right.

More about the same event from ST (Mar 29), "Made-in-S'pore devices unveiled to fight terror--15 new gadgets from local defence giant showcased at security event here", by David Boey (subscription required):
SINGAPORE companies are turning out several new products to help in the fight against terrorism.
Apparently, Singapore Technologies Engineering showcased some 15 new products, 6 of which were specially mentioned by ST, the "security show-stoppers":
Here are six show-stoppers ST Engineering will showcase for the first time today:

- Mobile crash barrier: Developed in less than three months, this anti-intrusion device looks like an advertising billboard on wheels when in transport mode. One of the few portable vehicle barriers in the world, it gets round the hassle of ripping up driveways to install permanent barriers. Deployed in less than 10 minutes, the device can be placed across entrances to stop unauthorised vehicles entering sensitive facilities. The 'teeth' pop up within a second and can stop a five-tonne truck moving at 50kmh.

- Balloon camera: Police or civil defence rescuers can get a bird's-eye view using a remote-controlled video camera attached to a tethered helium balloon. This mobile surveillance system, called SKeYe, is towed behind a truck in a trailer which holds the balloon and its helium tanks. SKeYe's camera gives an all-around view and can be hoisted up to 100m in the air. A night vision camera allows the user to see in the dark.

- Protected vehicles: Armour plates and blast-proof glass protect vehicles from blasts and small arms fire. The modified vehicles look just like any others, as the armour is concealed. The target market is government officials, businessmen or diplomats requiring discreet protection. Making its debut outside the US is SmarTruck III, equipped with armour, tear-gas launchers and remote-controlled guns and sensors. It was developed to demonstrate the kind of technology and firepower an 'intelligent' vehicle can have.

- Swimmer detection sonar: Sensors shaped like frying pans protect harbours and naval bases from hostile divers and 'other submerged threats' like midget submarines. It is ready for sale after two years of trials by ST Electronics and a United States-based partner. The sonar is smart enough to distinguish divers from shoals of fish, and is said to be ideal 'to counter threats of sabotage and terrorism to enhance harbour and coastal defence'.

- Mini satellite phone: About the size of a laptop, this phone boasts global coverage, with calls costing about a tenth of those made with other satellite phones. Even before its official launch today, the phone was used by Singapore aid workers during tsunami relief efforts in Aceh. The phone is meant not just for the police or military, but people like land surveyors or journalists who may need to communicate from remote places.

- Less-than-lethal munitions: ST Kinetics will unveil new types of ammunition that can be fired from the 40mm grenade launchers commonly found in military and police arsenals. One type of grenade bursts in the air to release electrically charged pellets which hit attackers with a jolt of electricity. Another is filled with dye to stain trouble-makers during a riot, allowing law-enforcement officers to identify them among the crowd.
UPDATE: There are more details on the products on Singapore Technologies's website (see here and here) The factsheet for the 40mm "Less than lethal ammo" that has attracted some comments is also available (.pdf file). According to it:
The 40mm Stinger Round is... a less than lethal air bursting ammunition that is able to disperse multiple electrically-charged pellets against would-be aggressors. This special ammunition is designed such that the dispersing pellets generate sufficient voltage to temporarily incapacitate with minimal injury on offenders...The Stinger Round has a deployment range of approximately 50m to 100m...
The specs of its lethal cousins--STK's 40mm Air Bursting Munition System--are also available, but it's hard to extrapolate given that we don't know the size of the pellets or how the stinger actually works.

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