From 1 Sep, camera mobile phones will be permitted in designated areas within 14 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) camps as part of a pilot security zoning programme.
Selected for the high volume of Operationally-Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) and full-time National Servicemen (NSFs) who pass through for training or administration, these include camps that house fitness conditioning centres, training institutes, the Central Manpower Base and Basic Military Training Centre.
Areas in camps where camera mobile phones are allowed are termed Green Zones, though the existing security stance on photography remains the same. Unless authorised by unit commanders for special events such as open houses, graduation parades and cohesion activities, photography is prohibited. Examples of Green Zones include medical centres, accommodation bunks and cookhouses.
Within the Red Zones, which are areas where sensitive and classified information is present, camera mobile phones are not allowed. Before entering a Red Zone, camera mobile phones must be deposited in lockers. Examples of Red Zones include units' operation rooms and offices with computer access to classified information.
The pilot programme was implemented for the convenience of servicemen, and because of the proliferation of smart phones, according to Chief of Staff-General Staff Brigadier-General Tung Yui Fai, who announced this initiative at the Infantry Training Institute (ITI) on 31 Aug.
He added: "This security zoning allows us to better secure areas we think we need to protect better. At the same time, it allows flexibility and convenience for our servicemen who operate within the camp."
Enhanced security measures will be in place at the Red Zones. Where practical, a perimeter fence will be erected to demarcate the Red from the Green Zones; clear signboards will be prominently displayed at the entrance of a Red Zone, and digital locks and close-circuit cameras will be installed for added security.
Only camera mobile phones are allowed in this pilot programme, which will last for six to nine months before a review is conducted. Tablets such as iPads, laptops and digital cameras are still prohibited.
For NSman 3rd Sergeant (3SG) (NS) Lavin Achudan, a marketing manager with Johnson & Johnson who uses an iPhone 4S to access his work emails, being able to bring his camera phone into camp eases his workload. Previously, he would borrow his brother’s basic NOKIA phone when he had to go for his In-Camp Training.
"As a marketing manager, I have to constantly reply to emails from my sales team and customers, and replying emails in the shortest time possible is my highest priority. Allowing me to bring my iPhone to camp allows me to communicate with my customers efficiently, and that is very important to me," said the platoon sergeant of 731st Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.
"When I am not training, I can reply to these emails immediately, as opposed to having to wait till I book out at night to reply to emails. It allows me to reply whenever I have time... It's about the convenience of being able to bring in a phone which I always use, which happens to have a camera," added the 28-year-old.
Echoing this sentiment is 20-year-old NSF 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Kok Chun Hou, who is a curriculum coordinator at ITI. He uses a basic NOKIA phone in camp and an iPhone 3GS outside of camp.
Citing some inconveniences of using two phones, such as having to input contacts into both phones, 2LT Kok said: "This current NSF generation grew up in the IT age; it's our habit to stay connected. We live, work and play differently from previous generations, so connectivity is very important to us."
"I would also use my smart phone for personal banking and stock-investing. With the implementation of the pilot scheme, I now have the option of just stepping out of the office to use my smart phone," he said.
The 14 camps that are part of the pilot security zoning programme are: