Need national service info? Chat with My NS Buddy

Pre-enlistees and national servicemen may soon be able to find information on enlistment, deferment and other national service (NS) matters by chatting with an app on their phones.

Called My NS Buddy, the mobile messaging app is still being developed by the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), but a series of trials for the app is tentatively planned to start in November.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed the app in a Facebook post on Wednesday, with a video preview of the chatbot app in action.

The clips shows the app fielding questions from a pre-enlistee, with replies sometimes featuring Singlish words.

The topics covered include what one should wear when reporting for NS enlistment, and what needs to be done before enlistment.

Said Dr Ng: "(The app) helps national servicemen, especially those starting their BMT (Basic Military Training) to be better prepared and hopefully get more out of their NS experiences."

DSTA told The Straits Times yesterday that My NS Buddy uses the "Singapore Armed Forces' lingo" and makes use of "a conversational user interface to make information and services more accessible for national servicemen".

Mr Robin Ang, one of the five engineers from DSTA who developed the app, said he was inspired to create it with his team when he was checking for available Individual Physical Proficiency Test time slots.

He thought it would be helpful if his NS-related questions could be answered instantly just by sending a message.

"As national servicemen, we are able to draw from our personal NS experiences and customise the chatbot to make it fun and intuitive for the user," he said.

During the trials for My NS Buddy, feedback from recruits and, subsequently, other national servicemen will be solicited.

DSTA said the trials are aimed at making the app more engaging and intuitive.

More details, such as which mobile platforms the app will work on and its launch date, were not available from DSTA.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2017, with the headline 'Need national service info? Chat with My NS Buddy'. Print Edition | Subscribe