SAF camps to become smarter with self-service stores and weapon-tracking technology

File photo showing recruits undergoing weapon-handling practice with the SAR21 rifle in a training shed at the SAF's Basic Military Training Centre in Pulau Tekong.
File photo showing recruits undergoing weapon-handling practice with the SAR21 rifle in a training shed at the SAF's Basic Military Training Centre in Pulau Tekong.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Servicemen may soon be spending less time waiting to draw or return their equipment and have more time for training - with the help of new technology.

Several initiatives to make Singapore Armed Forces army camps "smarter" will be going on trial soon.

For instance, a trial will start from the end of the year (2018) allowing soldiers to draw and return equipment at their own convenience, reducing manpower needs at stores.

Other initiatives include a mobile application containing training information, automated dispensers for pre-packed meals, and tracking technology to account for weapons.

Some of these will be progressively trialled at Stagmont Camp in Choa Chu Kang and Kranji Camp III.

The concept was one innovation Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen highlighted in an interview on Friday (June 29), ahead of SAF Day on Sunday.

He said: "The idea is that you really can cut down a lot of day-to-day rituals, waiting time, if you use smart technology. So, if you walk through a camp, I should be able to recognise you by facial recognition, whether you're friend or foe.

"It's the same experience when you go to... the cookhouse, when you go to the armskote. I should be able to know who returns arms or whether the arms are cleaned or not by electronic means.

"Now, that's the concept. We are trying to actualise it using new technology."

The Camp Companion mobile app will allow servicemen to have access to camp, unit and training information on the go.

It will also have a digital identification feature and allow servicemen to report incidents, reserve camp facilities and receive camp alerts.

Workshops will also get "smarter" with a software-based diagnostic assistant, armed with a digital manual, helping technicians to diagnose faults.

The app, store, armskote, and cookhouse will be introduced in Stagmont Camp.

The smart workshop will be introduced in Kranji Camp III.

Meanwhile, another smartphone app for servicemen doing their reservist duty has also been trialled by three units and more than a thousand servicemen since January (2018).

 
 
 

This app allows commanders and their men doing their in-camp training (ICT) to access their training schedule, packing list, and routine orders.

Commanders are also able to check the unit's attendance and send messages to their men through the app.

It aims to enhance operationally-ready national servicemen's experience and improve administrative efficiency during ICT.

Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Lennon Tan, 40, head of general staff at HQ Signals and Command Systems, said: "All the information in the app is given deliberate treatment so that you won't view anything that is sensitive, for example, NRIC or phone numbers."

He added that the app might be rolled out to the air force or navy in the future, but the army is starting first as the bulk of NSmen are from the army.

When it is rolled out next year (2019), servicemen will use their SingPass credentials to log in.

Captain (NS) Neo Say Wei said that having the app was a boon as his unit has to process about 600 men into the battalion when they return for in-camp training.

The officer-in-charge of operations and training added that a major benefit for his men is being able to see their training schedules a few months in advance.

This is so that they can decide when to arrange their own schedules so as not to clash with key training activities, such as live firing.

"This has (led to) so much productivity increase, for us to focus on the purpose of ICT, which is training," said the entrepreneur, 43.