New app to build community of lifesavers, while 'little acts of kindness' boost Singapore's total defence

North West 911 will provide residents of Singapore's North West district with the information and resources to respond to various emergency scenarios.
North West 911 will provide residents of Singapore's North West district with the information and resources to respond to various emergency scenarios.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A new mobile app will provide residents of Singapore's North West district with the information and resources to respond to various emergency scenarios such as fires and even volcanic eruptions.

Called North West 911, the app was officially launched at a community event at Bukit Panjang Community Centre on Wednesday (Feb 12).

Its development was spearheaded by Mr Jonathan Tan, 29, a district councillor of North West Community Development Council (CDC) and chairman of its Emergency Preparedness Resource Team (EPRT).

Mr Tan, a business owner, and two volunteers, both software developers, built the app over the course of 12 months with the support of North West CDC.

His interest in emergency preparedness stems from his time as a student at the University of Tokyo from 2012 to 2016, due to Japan’s propensity for natural disasters. 

He experienced the effects of Typhoon Hagibis firsthand while visiting the software developers, who were based in Japan, while they worked on the app last October.

The app comprises five main functions: a guide on how to respond to 14 types of emergency scenarios, a first aid guide, an inventory of items to include in an emergency bag, a map to locate nearby resources, and the contact details of emergency services and the Singapore embassy or high commission in 10 overseas destinations.

Besides scenarios applicable to Singapore, such as fires and floods,the tips also address situations that can occur overseas, such as heavy snowfall and volcanic eruptions.

This is because Singaporeans are becoming more international and travel often, said Mr Tan.

In a similar vein, the overseas destinations included in the app are those that Singaporeans visit the most, he added.

The map function serves as a directory of clinics, hospitals, police stations, community centres and civil defence shelters in the North West district.

 
 

Dr Teo Ho Pin, Mayor of the North West CDC, said that the app will empower residents and "build a community of life-savers".

Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung was guest of honour at the event.

Noting that the app has been launched ahead of Total Defence Day on Saturday (Feb 15), Mr Ong said that of the five limbs of total defence, he felt that psychological defence is the most important yet most difficult to cultivate.

But efforts like the development of this app demonstrate that deep down, Singaporeans do have psychological resilience, he said.

Commending the efforts of all front-line workers as the Republic grapples with the Covid-19 outbreak, Mr Ong noted how Singaporeans have come forward to express gratitude to them, such as students writing thank-you notes to front-line workers.

He remarked that such "little acts of kindness will add up to the psychological defence of Singapore".

He added: "Come what may, I am sure we will all soldier on and never fear."