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With the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution opening up new possibilities, DSTA partnered MINDEF and the SAF on a series of ‘Digital First’ National Service (NS) initiatives aimed at harnessing the latest technologies to transform the NS experience, from pre-enlistment to Operationally Ready National Service.

DSTA partnered MINDEF to develop and soft-launch a chatbot that provides personalised AI-enabled assistance for pre-enlistees. Named ‘NS Buddy’, it was designed to make MINDEF’s digital services and policy communication more accessible, fun and engaging for the newer generation of NSmen. It also anticipates pre-enlistees’ needs and proactively provides information or initiates transactions based on their personal profiles and prior interactions with it.

To improve the overall in-camp training (ICT) experience for Operationally Ready NSmen, DSTA also piloted a Smart ICT app. The one-stop platform consolidates information from multiple sources on topics relevant to NS, including training programmes, NSmen training records and weather conditions. This allows commanders and NSmen to keep abreast of training and personnel performance statuses, as well as facilitates ICT planning. The app also helps foster greater engagement of NSmen throughout their ICT, as they are able to raise any concerns through its feedback feature while NS commanders can provide timely responses during ICT.

Adding on to the series of initiatives, MINDEF and DSTA delivered the full capabilities of the Next Generation NS Portal (NGNSP) in March 2019. The portal features a suite of electronic services (eService) and enhanced database intrusion and detection capabilities. Seeking to improve user experience, the team also redesigned the portal’s services for greater intuitiveness and ease of use by integrating various eServices via a personalised dashboard.

The portal can be continuously integrated with new capabilities and technologies to enrich user experience through the implementation of a new web-oriented architecture (WOA) framework and application programme interface gateway, boosting its agility to respond to changing needs.

To adopt the WOA framework, a first for a large-scale MINDEF Corporate IT project, the team developed and integrated the portal’s back-end infrastructure with more than 30 eServices. The team also developed analytical models for key end-to-end NS services such as ICT deferment and NSmen payment. These models will allow MINDEF to map the user experience as one navigates through the portal, so as to better understand the effectiveness of NGNSP’s eServices and effect targeted improvements.