SMS to Mapping

System Overview

RegistrationStart Of A DayFirst ContactVehicle Finds CompetitorFinal Check-inAlternative TransportMiscellaneous


The Registration Database is an integral part of the system

Before the competition starts the organisation will need to collect and collate details of all the competitors. Organisations have a number of varied systemsfor doing this - some via the internet, some by telephone etc but the common link is that all competitions require similar information. FASTRetrieve was developed to assist with this phase as well. The retrieve side of a competition requires very similar information to the organisers (Competitor Contact Numbers, Equipment Details, Names etc)so it made sense to build a common system which can also provide the organisation with any details it requires for smooth running of the competition.

The result is a comprehensive registration system which records ALL the details an organiser could require - names, addresses, various telephone numbers, insurance details and even photographs of competitors.The following is a list of the current data which is collected - this can easily be adapted to suit other requirements.

Competitor Personal DetailsName (First and Surname)
Current Address inc Postcode and Country
Up to 3 Telephone Numbers and 1 e-mail for this address
Date Of Birth and Gender
Details of any Medical Conditions
Emergency ContactName and relationship of Next Of Kin (or similar)
Address inc Postcode and Country
Up to 2 telephone numbers and 1 e-mail for this contact
Insurance DetailsThird Party Insurance Company (where Required)
Third Party Policy No and Expiry Date
Medical Insurance Company (Where Required)
Medical Insurance Policy No and Expiry Date
Medical Insurance 24hr Emergency Contact No.
Competition AccommodationAddress During Competition
Telephone Number During Competition (inc SMS Use)
Competitor CredentialsSporting Association Ratings and Expiry Dates
Other Relevant Ratings and Expiry Dates
Competitor EquipmentParaglider Manufacturer and Model
(Example From Paragliding)Colouring
Unique Markings and/or Numbers
Where required - load tests and other papers.

All aspects of the registration process are checked by the system to ensure that no data is missing and moving on from acompetitor's record is not permitted until all required data has been collected (this can be over-ridden but the system will list the missing dataas a problem until it has been supplied.

At the end of the registration process, identification cards (including photographs) can be produced for use during the competition.These cards can have contact details for the organisation and the SMS retrieve number etc listed on the back.

Start Of A Day

At the beginning of each competition day the system is set to list all competitors as 'OUT'. At the same time any details from previous days (SMS messages, Co-Ordinates etc) arearchived and contact details for the retrieve vehicles and organisation staff are updated (in case of any changes) - the system is then ready to begin the retrieve.

Competitors send in SMS messages

First Contact

As each competitor is ready for retrieval First Contact is made by sending an SMS message containing competitor number and current co-ordinatesto the messaging server (an example is shown in the picture). This is decoded by the system and, assuming there are no errors (ie incomplete co-ordinates, non-existent competitor numbers etc)the competitor's details are passed to another machine where they are plotted on a map within CompeGPS. Should the competitor subsequently move thenfurther similar messages can be sent to update the position on the map. The system will accept multiple competitor numbers in these messagesthough only one set of co-ordinates can be used. Additionally, free text can be used in the same message to supply additional information (eg 'in a bar in the village square').

Once the competitor is plotted on the map the most suitable retrieve vehicle can be identified (normally by proximity) and the competitors detailsare sent direct (via SMS) to the driver - the message includes the competitor's co-ordinates and telephone number. NOTE for best results the driver should beequipped with Tom Tom or a similar navigation system - in which case the co-ordinates are converted to a suitable format for the unit prior to the message being sent.There is also an option to send vehicle contact details to the competitor should this be required.

Vehicle Finds Competitor

Competitors and Vehicles are plotted direct on a map

Once a vehicle finds a competitor, or group of competitors, the driver sends an SMS to the system containing the vehicle number and a list of competitor numbers.These competitors are then automatically removed from the map and the 'last known' location of the vehicle is updated. These competitors are now listed as on boarda known vehicle and their status on the monitor screen changes to reflect this. Should some people have to change vehicle part of the way (ie to fill one vehicle and leave another ina given area to collect more people) then the driver of the receiving vehicle simply sends another message indicating the people he has received. Details of which people are in whichvehicle are available on the monitor screen at any time.

The system also tracks how many seats are still available on each vehicle allowing us to make maximum use of vehicle space before it returns to base.

Check In Back At Base

The Visual Monitor Screen

On return to base, whether by retrieve vehicle or other means, all competitors are required to check in. This changes their status to green on the monitorscreen and indicates that no further action is required on the part of this competitor. Check in can be achieved by a number of methods - personal appearanceis the preferred method and guarantees that the competitor has been seen by the check in personnel. However, if required, competitors can check in by text,telephone or word of mouth (though these methods carry an inherent danger of misinterpretation and are not recommended). The ID Cards also carry a barcodewhich can be used for check in which, combined with a photo on the card, offers a guaranteed way to ensure that the correct person has been recorded as safe.At competitions using the CompCheck or FS scoring systems it is possible for thedownload of a competitor's GPS to serve as the check-in (as long as this is donein person).

At any moment, the visual nature of the monitor screen shows instantly any competitors whose status is still in question and allows them to be contacted bytelephone or SMS to ascertain their status and retrieval requirements.

Alternative Transport

Frequently (in some countries) a competitor may be able to hitch hike or otherwise get a lift all, or part of the way, back to base. In these situations the person islisted as on a vehicle but not one known to the organisation (there is a special case for this). Should the lift only cover part of the journey competitors can send in detailsof where they will be dropped off (or send new co-ordinates when they alight) and a retrieve vehicle can be sent in the normal manner.


The status of all competitors is tracked from the start of each competition day and status indicators are set as this changes throughout the retrieve process.Should a competitor be absent or choose not to compete on a given day they will be listed as a non-participant so that their status is not in question laterin the day. Competitors reaching a given Goal or similar end of task can be listed as a separate status which, if the monitor screen is made publicly available,allows for everyone to see who completed the given task at any given time. All SMS messages to and from competitors, vehicles and organisation staff are recordedagainst each individual allowing an instant view of all communication with any given person at any moment.

This system was developed for Paragliding Competitions hence the status indicators 'LANDED', 'GOAL' etc but these are easily changed to suit any competition.The SMS server incorporates a remote interrogation facility which allows organisation staff to query the status, last known position, equipment details, insurance details orcompetition address and contact numbers of any competitor. A summary of the status of all competitors is also available. Finally, any SMS containing the word URGENT can be passedimmediately to the competition director or other nominated person. 

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SMS/GPS Retrieval System
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