SINGAPORE - Military Expert 2 Joyce Yip used to manually count the blank ammunition used during the rifle salute at the National Day Parade (NDP) - a tedious process that could take 10 people at least half an hour.
She began to brainstorm with the team she leads for the NDP duty on ways to make their job easier. After ruling out commercially available solutions due to their cost, she decided to build a solution from scratch.
The result was a prototype box that could automatically count blanks that were collected after the salute and can hold over 2,000 rounds. Operated by one person, it was trialled last year and is being used in this year's rehearsals and parade.
The salute involves soldiers firing their rifles into the air in rapid succession, typically during the parade segment of the NDP.
ME2 Yip, 37, was among 11 recipients of the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) Dare To Do Award on Tuesday (July 26).
The award recognises individuals and teams that show initiative in helping to improve work processes.
A total of 88 awards were presented to individuals, teams and units from across Mindef and the Singapore Armed Forces at the Ignite Innovation Symposium at Mindef's headquarters.
The awards were given in recognition of the recipients' innovative spirit and work improvement efforts, which led to savings of over $159 million in the last financial year.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who presented the awards, spoke about the importance of innovation in Mindef, especially during unprecedented situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
There was no manual on responding to a pandemic to refer to, he said.
"All our personnel had to assess a rapidly evolving situation, meet time-critical outcomes and deadlines, evolve novel solutions including customise hardware and software that did not exist to meet the challenge."
The SAF Home Recovery Task Group was among 13 individuals and teams to receive the Exemplary Innovation Award.
The group created a centralised system that could keep a detailed history of Covid-19 patients' interaction with their Home Recovery Programme (HRP) buddies, and monitor up to 3,500 patients daily from the detection to end-of-recovery phases.
It was given the task of doing so last October, when case numbers were at a high and the HRP had become the default arrangement for most Covid-19 cases.
Military Expert 6 Lawrence Tan, 39, one of the task group members, said: "We were very clear that we had to provide all necessary information to HRP buddies for when patients call. The (buddy) picking up the phone would also need to know if the patient has called before, the details of previous inquiries, or if they required any follow-ups."
The efforts helped to reduce the time needed to onboard patients onto the HRP from three days to 24 hours, noted Dr Ng in his speech.
Other innovations that were recognised include speech-to-text technology that improves transcription accuracy on navy vessels by 10 per cent over manual logging, and a simulation platform that educates medical trainees on triage procedure in a guided environment.