Smart camp, safety app: innovations to improve NS experience
// Report by Thrina Tham
// Photos by Tan Yong Quan
Enter camp after a contactless fingerprint scan; draw weapons and stores on your own using facial biometric scanning; choose your menu before you enter the cookhouse.
This could all be in the near future for National Servicemen under a new suite of Smart Camp initiatives piloted by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
Under the project, a new Camp Companion mobile application (app) allows servicemen to book in and out by swiping their hand over a contactless biometric sensor in camp. Their attendance will then be recorded in the system as well as on their app, removing the need to sign in or even fall in for reporting.
The Camp Companion app also has features for servicemen to book camp facilities, access individual training programmes on the go, and even check out the crowd at the cookhouse before selecting their meals.
At the Smart Store and Smart Armskote, servicemen only need to scan their 11B identification cards and their biometrics to draw stores and weapons on their own.
Without this feature, servicemen have to sign out for their stores and weapons on paper with a store assistant or an armskote man to verify their signatures.
Focus on everyday innovation
Smart Camp was one of 29 projects showcased at Digital Innovation Day (DID) 2019, an event that aims to enhance the National Service (NS) experience and safety culture by promoting innovation.
Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How, who launched the event at Kranji Camp III on 9 May, highlighted three steps the SAF must take to harness technology and improve the NS journey: proactively digitising current processes; building a culture of everyday innovation; and involving everyone in innovating.
"There is much we can capitalise on to enhance daily life and streamline operations to maximise efficiency, convenience (and) impact... In the future, digitalisation might even extend to the entire suite of SAF operations."
Projects showcased at DID are on trial and will be selected for implementation based on servicemen feedback.
Tech for servicemen
The Smart Camp initiatives are currently being trialled by Full-time National Servicemen and Regulars at Stagmont Camp and Kranji Camp III. The six-month trial will end this September, when feedback from users will be taken to see how the app can be scaled up to other camps.
Trial user Dinesh S/O Pannir welcomed the contactless scanning system that did away with long queues to book in or draw arms.
"Recording on the books was much slower. Now we just need to scan our hands. This time saved allows us to do more productive things like training and also gives personnel more rest and recovering time," said the operator in 10th Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence Battalion.
Another project showcased at DID was the SafeGuardian app, designed to be a one-stop companion for safety reporting and processes.
Using the app, servicemen can easily photograph a hazard spotted in the military base and share it with other personnel in the vicinity. The app also includes safety checklists in carrying out various activities, saving servicemen the paperwork of referring to hardcopy safety guides.
DID 2019, held on 9 and 10 May, also featured over 20 seminars and talks by technology and innovation experts from the Ministry of Defence and SAF.