New tech in camps offers soldiers convenience and efficiency

More army soldiers can soon use a fingerprint scanner to book into camp more quickly.
More army soldiers can soon use a fingerprint scanner to book into camp more quickly.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Digital initiatives including facial recognition and smartphone app on trial at two camps

More army soldiers can soon use a fingerprint scanner to book into camp more quickly, use facial recognition to take out weapons without signing with pen and paper, and view their training schedules on the go on their smartphones.

At the "smart" workshop, servicemen can access digital manuals when doing maintenance work, while "smart" stores with computer visioning sensors provide real-time updates on equipment count.

These initiatives under the "Smart Camp" project by the Singapore Army have been on trial at two camps since March, and there are plans to expand this to more after the trial ends in September.

The project was among those showcased at the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) annual Digital Innovation Day at Kranji Camp III yesterday.

More than 4,000 Mindef and SAF personnel are expected to attend the event over two days.

In a speech at the opening ceremony, Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How said the Smart Camp initiatives have digitalised processes for greater efficiency, and provide greater convenience to servicemen.

He added that Singapore's Smart Nation vision, coupled with the numerous breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, robotics and other technological fields, has created a strong environment for the SAF to enhance its defence capabilities through digital innovation.

The ceremony was attended by senior defence officials, including Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong and Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) chief executive Tan Peng Yam.

The three service chiefs, Chief of Navy Lew Chuen Hong, Chief of Army Goh Si Hou and Chief of Air Force Kelvin Khong, were also present.


Other projects showcased include a SafeGuardian app that allows servicemen to report near-miss incidents, receive live updates of weather forecasts and access safety directives without referring to physical copies.

The app is a collaboration between the Republic of Singapore Navy and DSTA, and is on trial at the Tuas and Changi naval bases.

The armskote, cookhouse, store and workshop, as well as a smartphone app, are part of the Smart Camp project, which was announced last year.

Other than using it to book in, the Camp Companion app also allows servicemen to access training programmes and daily instructions instead of referring to a physical noticeboard.

The smart armskote and smart store allow soldiers to return their arms and stores respectively by scanning them at a kiosk, instead of filling up hardcopy records.

This transaction system, together with computer visioning sensors, provides real-time accounting of equipment.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology tags and weight sensors are also used to ensure soldiers draw the correct weapons.

Corporal Dinesh Pannir, 19, an operator at the 10C4I Battalion at Stagmont Camp in Choa Chu Kang, said that using the fingerprint scanner has helped saved administrative work for soldiers like him.

"With the time saved from doing admin work, I can do other things for the company, like help out in the store or the manning of vehicles," said the full-time national serviceman.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2019, with the headline 'New tech in camps offers soldiers convenience and efficiency'. Print Edition | Subscribe