Wanted: A gizmo that frees up space on frontline police officers’ equipment-heavy waist belts, as well as serve at least 10 other functions, ranging from juicing up the myriad equipment carried by officers to cooling officers down.
The form this contraption will come in: A vest.
In a tender for a prototype of this “smart vest system” posted last Friday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said a frontline police officer’s waist belt is now chock-full of equipment — revolver, Taser, bullet pouch, radio set, baton and handcuffs. The bulk gets in the way sometimes, which “greatly restricts (their) ability to execute their duties”, such as when they need to chase or restrain a suspect.
On top of this, a myriad of extra smart devices they will need in their policing, such as a mobile data terminal, smart phone and wearable camera, has no place to go. Not only does this mean equipment loss may become a “major concern”, a way has to be found to keep the various devices juiced up throughout an officer’s 12-hour shift.
The ministry is sourcing for a “smart vest system” that can incorporate solutions to all these problems, and more.
For instance, it wants sensors to be integrated to the holsters for revolvers and Tasers. When either is drawn, a video-camera — such as the body-worn camera that has been issued to some officers — will be triggered to start recording.
These footage will be stored on a centralised system — capable of holding 72 hours’ of information — built in to the vest. This system must also be capable of sensing the officer’s location and body orientation — standing, sitting, laying down.
In addition, data and video streams must be capable of being automatically transmitted in “near real-time” via 3G or LTE network to a “remote control and monitoring station” (RCMS).
Separately, the vest must have a power management system for officers to keep track of which of his body-worn electronic equipment are running low on power, while there should also be a single battery pack that can provide 12 hours’ charging — including wirelessly — for any of his devices.
When any of the equipment issued to an officer goes out of his vicinity, the vest should also sound an alarm to him promptly and transmit the missing equipment’s location to his smart device.
On top of all these, the vest must be able to monitor the wearer’s health conditions. An abnormal heart rate or if the wearer is laying down for a long time will send alarms to the RCMS.
The vest also needs to provide a body cooling system to keep officers’ body temperatures to below 36.9 degree Celsius, and assess the hazards of electromagnetic radiation on their bodies.
In terms of addressing the bulk on officers’ waist belts, the ministry said the vest must keep the centre of mass close to and high up along the officer’s body, and ensure that the strapped-on load is balanced. The vests must also be weatherproof and operable in temperatures between 15 and 40°C and a relative humidity of up to 100 per cent.
According to the tender posted last Friday on government procurement portal GeBiz, prospective suppliers will have up to April 6 to submit applications.
After a proposal is accepted, the supplier has one year to deliver the “smart vest system” and a trial will be conducted for one to five months.
The search for this seemingly all-powerful vest comes amid a wider push by the police to harness technology. During the MHA’s Committee of Supply debate last Friday, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security and Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean said his ministry will “significantly step up” investments in technology to boost its operations and crime-fighting abilities.
In recent years, the police have rolled out several techy crime-busters, including surveillance cameras at HDB blocks and multi-storey carparks, and most recently, body-worn cameras.