First 'smart prison' at Tai tam

Local | Maisy Mok 21 Dec 2020

The Correctional Services Department will introduce the city's first "smart prison" to help officers manage inmates, says a report by Eastweek.

Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution in Shek O will be transformed into Hong Kong's first smart prison next year after more than 40 trials in correctional facilities such as Lo Wu Correctional Institution and Pik Uk Prison.

Herman Hui Wai-man, chief officer responsible for the "Smart Prison" protocol unit, said that they have studied such arrangements in countries such as Britain, the United States, Belgium, Singapore and South Korea.

"The smart prison will include a comprehensive management and analytics platform to display all information in real-time, such as the number of prisoners and inmates seeking medical treatment outside," he said.

Smart wristbands that record prisoners' heart rate and whereabouts and a CCTV with video analytic monitoring functions will be put in use to help detect inmates' abnormal behavior, such as self-harm, fighting and entering prohibited areas, more efficiently. The CCTV system also includes facial recognition for tracking.

Once cameras or wristbands notice high-risk actions, the system will send warning signals to staff. The department said that not only would the technologies enhance security, but it would also allow officers to actively combat inmates' aggressive behavior.

Drones and robotic warders will also be used to ease officers' workload by making frequent patrols and keeping a closer eye on inmates.

The smart prison initiative was first proposed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in her 2018 policy address.

Commissioner of the Correctional Services Department Danny Woo Ying-ming is pleased to see that the new technology has been well received among frontline staff.

The department also plans to launch an e-Staff Training Institute by introducing virtual reality in regular staff training to boost their confidence and capabilities when dealing with emergencies.

In addition, technologies to facilitate rehabilitation, including tablets for inmates to browse electronic books and videos as well as an integrated intelligent communication system, have been introduced to enable prisoners to communicate with their families.

Inmates can also buy food and submit applications via a self-service kiosk.

Woo said: "The Security Bureau, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, Architectural Services Department and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer strongly endorsed the concept of a smart prison. They matched us with suitable IT companies and provided financial and technical supports during trials."

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