Last year, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen called for “a future Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) that suits Singapore’s next generation of soldiers – digital natives who welcome innovation”.
“We can’t operate systems which are 2G and expect 3G or 4G soldiers to use that,” he mentioned in an interview ahead of SAF Day.
In light of that, the impending launch of a smart ICT app which would allow NSmen to check packing lists and training programmes, complete surveys, and send messages to each other was also announced.
Said Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Lennon Tan, head general staff HQ Signals and Command Systems: “Our NSmen find that the app has greatly shortened some of the time that is needed to perform the administrative task. So, they now can pay more focus to what matters most, and that is the training.”
Added Captain (CPT) (NS) Neo Say Wei, who has served 17 years of ICTs: “Without the app, we had to physically turn to the programme and take time off during non-critical training elements.”
The app is due to be rolled “progressively across the Army starting from 2019”.
Another app, called the ‘camp companion app’, was also announced then.
This app behaves exactly like what its name suggests, and will give NSmen access to camp, unit, and training information.
It will also let them “indent meals, reserve camp facilities, and report incidents”.
Officer Develops App To Increase Soldiers’ Sense Of Ownership In NS
Along the same thread of ‘digitalising’ aspects of National Service, an SAF infantry officer has also taken to Facebook to share about an app that he and others have developed in a bid to give soldiers more ownership of their NS journey.
Choy shared that the inspiration behind developing such an app came after he took over command, and realised that there were a few things that bugged him about “how we do things in our Army on the ground”.
He brought up the example of how training programmes and IPPT results are still announced via an A4 printout, in spite of soldiers using their smartphones in most aspects of their lives.
Choy also revealed that he “really wanted” to change the mindset that some soldiers have where they simply “live day by day and do what they are told, with little foresight and ownership of what they want to achieve and become in NS”.
Worked On The App “Over The Past Year”
He shared that the app has been worked on “over the past year”, and a prototype has been developed.
The minimum viable product (MVP) of this app currently has three key functions:
1. Tracking Key Activities And Completion
2. Tracking Badges Earned
3. Tracking IPPT Results
The prototype has been rolled out to some soldiers for feedback, and Choy reported that “reception was positive, and [soldiers] even suggested aspects which [were] incorporated into the app, such as the ‘days countdown’ to end of phase and ORD”.
He shared that soldiers have also given “more ideas for other modules” that he and the team plan to develop “in the near future, such as a feedback and reflection module, or gamification where the badges/points can be turned into real-life awards (such as military gear)”.
He concluded the post saying that what fuels the app development is the “strong desire to move our Army with the times and professionalise it further”, and that they are still on the lookout for even more ideas to further improve the app.
“I believe we can combine the best motivational tools out there with technology to change the social contract of NS – to encourage our soldiers to be informed and invested about their own growth, mastery, and journey. Hope to be able to bring this forward, even if I’m out of command now.”
Check out his full post, and maybe contribute some ideas here.
Featured Image Credit: Choon Hiong on Facebook, Screenshots from YC Choy