MFRC launches new deployment app

MFRC launches new deployment app

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A new mobile software application designed to assist military members, and their spouses or parents with deployments has been launched.

Developed by the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC), the “MFRC Deployment” app has been up and running since early October, is free to use, and downloadable from the App Store or Google Play. The software is specifically designed for use with mobile phones and tablets, and is Android and iOS (Apple) compatible, but will not work with Blackberry phones.

MFRC Deployment coordinator Sandra Pinard says the new software is an effort to reach out to military members and their loved ones with a program that affords them instant information customized to their specific needs and the nature of the deployment.

“To our knowledge this App is unique, the first of its kind for sailors on the West Coast,” says Pinard. “At their fingertips, people can get vital and highly-relevant information and resources.”

They will officially introduce the App to its unit liaisons during a Dec. 7 training session at the Colwood Pacific Activity Centre (CPAC).

The program was designed by Victoria-based software development firm Three Trees Technical Incorporated. Three Trees co-owner and co-founder Ben Leather says the App will have a positive impact during deployments because it was designed to be user-friendly and with simplicity in mind.

“We really aimed to get technology out of the way so people who don’t consider themselves ‘tech savvy’ and aren’t always dependent on their phones will find it simple and easy to use,” says Leather.

Two key features of the App are a tips section that gives users advice customized to their profile, whether they are army, air force or navy, and the nature of the deployment, and also a planning section that encourages users to complete to-dos such as creating a deployment budget, emergency fund, bill payments and other concerns such as vehicle maintenance or pet care.

Other notable features include a prominent deployment countdown clock at the top of the app that allows users to count the days, hours and minutes to the homecoming, and a resource section that allows users instant access to MFRC deployment support documents.

One important part of the app, says Pinard, is that all users are anonymous and no personal or military information is at risk. No personal settings on the app is made available to anyone else but the user themselves. You don’t need an internet connection to use the app, which, for example, will allow deployed sailors who lack an internet connection while at sea instant access to information.

The idea for the App was born approximately three years ago when Pinard and other MFRC staffers noticed military family members attending deployment events were constantly tinkering with their mobile devices. Often times they were busy searching for an array of information related to the deployment.

“The need was expressed by the military community that they wanted an electronic or digital time-saving solution, and an alternative to accessing information via handouts and workshops,” Pinard says.

Customizing the app is fast and simple. Users are asked a series of basic questions, such as date of the deployment, whether at sea or land, if the family has any children, or if the military member is married or single. The information made available to users is also customized to four time frames of the deployment: preparing for deployment; deployment, anticipation of homecoming, and post homecoming.

The base appears to be merely a starting point for the App.

On Nov. 20, Pinard travelled to Cornwall, Ont. and did a demonstration of the App to delegates at the MFRC’s annual national convention. Prior to the demo, she had requests by MFRC offices in Petawawa and CFB Valcartier to put the App into use at their bases, and has received expressions of interest in the App from at least eight other MFRCs across the country.

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