Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Mdm Ho Ching tried out the new Automated Passenger In-Car Clearance System (APICS) at Woodlands Checkpoint yesterday. Sharing his experience on Facebook, the PM wrote that he wanted to find out more about how the Home Team officers use technology in their operations, in line with the Smart Nation initiative, which he expanded upon in his National Day Rally speech earlier this month.
According to the PM, this is how APICS works:
“First, officers physically count the travellers and inspect the car. The travellers are then guided to scan their passports in a Forward Clearance Zone. When done, they proceed to the immigration Clearance Zone in their car. Robotic arms extend to deliver a handheld device for each traveller to self-perform biometric scans without having to disembark. This technology integrates ICA’s existing biometric database and wireless technologies. It saves manpower, and will allow the checkpoints to handle more traffic.”
Netizens responding to his post weren’t so impressed, with many citing that such initiatives will be moot since many checkpoint counters are usually closed while some wondered how a middle passenger in the backseat or children could use the scanners without disembarking:
Thasaratha Visvanathan: Will hv many counters but most of them will be closed..
Kent Lee: The traffic queued up was always due to most counters closed or open only few counters. This happens especially at 6am, 3pm, 6pm but not because of other reasons etc. We can observe from the traffic camera or Beat the Jam apps.
Ezuan Rizal: How about kids in the car? I suggest put more fingerprint machine at woodlands going out to jb.
Wishyng Ťwś: Lol.. how about the middle person? How do the middle person scan their thumb print?
Eric Choy: if the rear seat has 3 passengers, the one in the centre might have to disembark!!
Iam Notalive: then bottleneck at Malaysia checkpoint… back to square one
Zulkifli Zakaria: Clearing fast on one side doesn’t help much I guess.
David EC Ong: If 7 people, how to do?
Kelvin Law Chee Ming: Only for 4, how about MPV 7seater
Andrew Pung: if the current manual human scanners are to be a guide… brace for more headaches
Tyler Huang: Fabulous. And then get stuck still on the other side of strait
Cheok Yew Lee: Sounds very cumbersome.
It appears from a video that the PM posted that the biometric scanners can be removed and used in a handheld manner so that multiple passengers may use it without disembarking:
Some highlights of my visit to the Home Team officers at Woodlands Checkpoint and Senoko Fishery Port yesterday. – LHL
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Monday, 28 August 2017
However, it is unclear whether more counters will be open with APICS, unlike the current checkpoint system where only few counters are operational, so that APICS can be truly effective.