Apps to help soldiers train and eat well

PHOTO: Apps to help soldiers train and eat well

SINGAPORE- Military commanders can now easily gauge the risk of say, whether lightning will strike during training, with a new mobile phone application.

Launched last Friday by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), the Army Safety App will provide about 4,000 commanders with information such as lightning risk classifications, the PSI and weather forecasts.

Such data is critical in deciding whether to carry on training.

It also provides hospital contact information and can route commanders to nearby medical facilities. The phone programme, which took less than a year to develop, allows commanders to report safety hazards directly to the Army Safety Inspectorate (ASI) via e-mail.

It is currently available only to army commanders with Android smartphones.

It is too early to tell if there will be a version for operationally ready servicemen.

The app will not replace existing safety measures but, instead, it will be a "convenient and complementary source of information", ASI's Captain Muhd Noor Ehsan was quoted as saying in SAF publication Cyberpioneer.

Most development work on the app was done by three full-time national servicemen, who worked under their supervisor in a team of eight.

Separately, Mindef is also trying out a mobile application by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to track the exercise and dietary habits of NSmen.

The trial commenced on April 1 and is currently open to an NS battalion, which usually consists of about 600 men.

They can key in their daily food intake and exercise activities into the Interactive Diet and Activity Tracker (iDAT) app, which will compute their calorie balance.

The app also has a social element, allowing users to share their progress and targets.

Replying to The Straits Times' queries, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies defence analyst Collin Koh said the use of such applications is "in sync with societal and technological trends" and also appeals to younger soldiers who are more tech-savvy.

He also lauded the SAF's efforts to develop its own applications: "This ensures there is a certain level of safety and cyber security embedded in them. But there is also a need to carefully manage whatever sensitive data (that) is gathered."

NSman and research associate Charles Chew, 25, said he would consider using the iDAT app as it can help him get in shape but added: "It will be quite a hassle to key in the information daily, so there should be some kind of incentive for it."

This article was published on April 17 in The Straits Times.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.