Where do I start ... ?
Its VERY Efficient !
When FASTRetrieve was first concieved it took five people working HARD through the afternoon and evening (and often into the night) to organise the retrievefor the British Champs - this was around 120 competitors. The map was a real paper map laid out on a table and competitor positions were manually marked on it.Messages from competitors were received by SMS, telephone and radio and positions were manually figured out from co-ordinates or descriptions and then plotted.All this took a very long time and was intensive in manpower.
FASTRetrieve reduces this requirement to a single person. Figure out the maths for wages, accommodation and travel for four people and you're on to a winnerstraight away. Then factor in the time saving - FASTRetrieve gets the whole job done quicker, which means your competitors and your staff get finished earlier.
The system can cope with up to 200 competitors - which is more than most meet directors are comfortable with - and up to 9 vehicles (these can be minibuses, coachesand even cars if you like) and monitors the number of seats available and filled in each vehicle. If you need to use more than 9 vehicles it can be arranged butso far that's the most we've had to deal with.
Its EXTREMELY Thorough !
The whole system was designed from the outset to ensure that no-one gets 'through the net'. The monitor screen and all the built-in checks ensure that the status of every single competitor is available at a glance at any time during the day. Contact numbers, equipment details and any other required details are availableat a moments notice and the visual nature of the information on screen ensures that we know as soon as the last person is back.
Once the majority of the field have reported positions or made the goal we get an instant idea of how many are, as yet, unreported. It is then a simple matter toidentify who is still unaccounted for and contact them to ascertain status.
And its ROBUST !
Many people have a natural (and often well founded) distrust of computer based systems - after all, what if the disk with all the competitor details should be damagedduring the day, perhaps one of the machines gets stolen or someone pulls out the plug (thanks Jean Jaques - you made me think hard about that one..).
FASTRetrieve has inbuilt fault tolerance. Basically, all the machines involved in the process (normally 3 or 4) keep local copies of ALL the data, updating each local copyas the data changes. This means that, for example, if the data server crashes or a disk breaks down the data can be reconstructed very quickly (and often automatically) fromthe other copies. In a worst case we may have to finish the job manually but all the information is still intact. The latest version of FASTRetrieve now supports line printersmeaning that we can print a hard copy of every SMS received or sent by the system - even in the event of a total power failure we still keep all the data. Work is constantlyongoing to improve the fault tolerance of the system - its not yet perfect but I'm running out of problems to throw at it...
We even use less fuel !
The instant plotting of competitors on the map means that we get an overall picture of retrieve requirements in a given area much earlier than with the older manualplotting. This reduces the number of 'turn arounds' or revisits to a location made by the vehicles and allows us to fill the vehicles more effectively - all this hasa major impact on the mileage covered and fuel used during the retrieve.
It is generally accepted that the largest headache facing an organiser of cross country competitions is the retrieve. FASTRetrieve removes this particular headache faster than a brand name drug.
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