22 smart projects on show at inaugural Mindef/SAF digital innovation event

The Smart Base Access project is seen at the Mindef/SAF Digital Innovation Day (DID), on May 15, 2018.
The Smart Base Access project is seen at the Mindef/SAF Digital Innovation Day (DID), on May 15, 2018.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - A visitor to a military camp may be able to gain access in future just by having his face and mobile phone scanned.

On entering the camp, his movement will be tracked and suggested routes to his intended destination will be sent to his mobile phone.

These functions are possible with the development of the Smart Base Access project, which employs video analytics technology that allows facial recognition and uses cameras attached to various locations for monitoring.

This is one of the 22 projects being showcased at the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) / Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) inaugural Digital Innovation Day, held at RSS Singapura - Changi Naval Base from Monday (May 14) to Tuesday.

Mr Heng Chee How, Senior Minister of State for Defence, who went to the exhibition on Tuesday, announced in a speech that the base has been designated a digital test bed for smart digital innovations for Mindef and SAF.

Started in October last year, it has already seen the testing of 10 projects in areas from training to finance and green buildings, he added.

In his speech, Mr Heng also said that digital technology presents an opportunity for Mindef and the SAF to transform their operations, as well as how they train and engage people.

He noted that the SAF will have less manpower in future - by 2030, the pool of full-time national servicemen would have fallen by a third.

Mr Heng said it is thus imperative to make full use of digital technologies to become more effective in operations.

The Smart Base Access project, for instance, will bring about manpower savings.

Based on data from trials, implementation of the project across camps can lead to a 60 per cent to 80 per cent reduction in the manpower needed for surveillance - from 25 men to five, said Military Expert 6 Joses Yau.

This frees up manpower for higher-value operational tasks, he added.

Another technology being developed is the Battlefield Instrumentation Data Analytics Tool, a Mindef project started in late 2013 that allows commanders to track and replay the events of a training exercise.

Major David Choi said this tool allows commanders to conduct more comprehensive reviews during and after their exercise, as well as enhance a unit's learning.

One fun technology showcased at the exhibition is the Warriors of the Seas gaming application, developed in collaboration with Lionfish Studios.

Captain Lee Guo Ping, the project team lead, said that users of the app will be able to learn the principles of navy warfare while waging a virtual battle.

He added that this gaming app has realistic features and allows soldiers, who usually belong to a specialised cluster in a ship, to understand the roles of other ship personnel.

Capt Lee also hopes that this application will better engage millennials, who are used to playing games on their mobile phones and help them to develop operational intelligence.

It is a joy, he said, when "people are able to learn things that we intended them to learn without us telling them".