NEA: Measures to safeguard privacy in place for camera surveillance

NEA: Measures to safeguard privacy in place for camera surveillance

We thank opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong for her commentary ("Sparring over Big Brother, cabs and cycling"; March 12).

All Singaporeans expect a clean and safe environment. Unfortunately, there is a minority who continue to indiscriminately discard their waste. Such irresponsible acts foul the environment and result in the proliferation of pests. Some litter, such as lit cigarette butts and high-rise litter, threaten the safety of others.

In order to deter such acts, we must increase the probability that such irresponsible persons will be prosecuted. They must not be allowed to get away with impunity.

Consequently, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has increased enforcement actions on the ground, supplemented by the use of surveillance technology.

The use of camera surveillance has proven effective in identifying a significantly higher number of high-rise litterbugs.

Our early trials on leveraging the use of cameras at littering hot spots have also shown that they can be an effective deterrent against such inconsiderate behaviour.

In carrying out camera surveillance, we protect the privacy of residents and confidentiality of all video footage captured. Only authorised personnel have access to the footage for investigation purposes, and they are legally bound to maintain the confidentiality of any information they handle.

There are also strict protocols for sharing sensitive information between agencies.

We have also empowered a growing team of community volunteers to help set appropriate social norms.

Other public-spirited members of the public who notice littering may inform the NEA directly. The NEA will arrange to meet the person at his home or office at his convenience, to obtain evidence that may be used to prosecute the litterbug in court.

We need to become a clean city, and not just a cleaned city. The support of all Singaporeans is essential if this aspiration is to be achieved.

Tai Ji Choong Director
Environmental Health Department
National Environment Agency

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