Please read these notes carefully, even if we have been providing a results service to your event for several years. The notes change in detail, year by year.
The purpose of these notes is to set down in roughly chronological order the necessary actions to facilitate the use of a computer results service. They attempt to point out the common problems and suggest ways of avoiding them. The notes are based on the experiences gleaned from providing results for more than nine hundred events over the past thity four years. We are always happy to discuss any ideas or particular requirements of organisers with the aim of providing the best possible service to each event.
The main system is currently run on between one and four Intel based PC compatible computers running under the Fedora or Centos Linux operating system. Additionally networked PCs running Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Vista/7 can be used as results enquiry terminals using a graphical front end to provide an attractive, easy to use interface to the system.
Appoint a results officer or liaison officer to act as a point of contact between the organising committee and the results service. Tynemouth Computer Services will nominate the person who will operate the results system on the day of the event and all further information should be sent to the nominated contact.
When drafting regulations
Do not be over-optimistic in the timetable. Aim to close documentation sufficiently early to be able to give all entry list amendments and award/championship eligibilities to the results service at least 30 minutes before the first car is due at the first card collection point. Provisional results usually appear about 15 minutes after the arrival of the final check sheets.
Be specific about the situation where a competitor qualifies for more than one award but may win only one. Is the less valuable award withheld or presented to the next eligible competitor?
Acknowledge the use of the Tynemouth Computer Services Results System.
When designing the route
Consider the location of card collect points. We realise that many factors have to be considered, but from our point of view one to four stages at a time is a convenient number to deal with. Much more important is that an even flow of information is maintained, and the number of card collection points that are simultaneously active is minimised (3 simultaneously active card collection points presents no problem, if you expect to have 4 or more card collection points simultaneously active ensure that we are aware of this, so that we provide sufficient equipment to support the necessary input tasks). If you intend to provide a field results service, the location of card collection points is crucial and you should liaise with us early in the route design to discuss the influence of card collection locations on the entire results system. For planning purposes, you should assume that a time-card with 15 controls on it will take approximately one minute to input into the computer and thus will require the use of a telephone continuously. This has implications for the numbers of controls between each card collection point and the number of telephone lines required into the results room. For events where a major media office will be operational then it is advisable to have card collects after every stage in order to provide a continuous flow of information.
If the final stage is less than about 10 miles from the finish venue it is usually better for competitors to bring back their final time card. It must be stressed that delays in returning time cards and check sheets to the results room is the most common cause of delay in publication of provisional results.
If you intend to re-group competitors during the course of the event, then you should also re-group them at the start by closing up the order to disregard non-starters. This amended start list can be generated by the results computer.
When designing the time cards and other paperwork
The time cards should be laid out so that controls appear in chronological order. Please consult us for specimens of suitable time cards. Time cards should not show both a target time for a section and a due time at the control at the end of that section (problems arise if the marshal entering the due time calculates it incorrectly when a target time is also specified).
Remember that the decisions where to split a time card and where to collect a time card are separate decisions: the time card does not need to be collected immediately after it has been completed, though it is desirable that it is not carried on by competitors for too great a time after it has been completed.
Results show a reason for retirement where one is known to the results team. We suggest that Damage Declaration Forms should ask retired competitors to state a reason for retirement for inclusion in the results (this information may also be useful to you in assessing post-event damage problems).
Check sheets should be designed to be as simple as possible to fill in, they should be filled in order of passage of competitors through the control. We strongly recommend that the control name and number be written on all check sheets before they are issued as our experience is that marshals frequently neglect to put this information on the check sheets.
The entry list should show eligibility for all awards and championships. Championship eligibility should be shown for driver and co-driver separately. To assist in the identification of competitors for championship purposes, the entry list should show forenames where possible (we think entry lists look 'nicer' this way, in any case). Again, for purposes of identifying championship contenders, it is useful if entry lists show a home town for both driver and co-driver.
We recommend that printed entry lists should carry a date and time of issue to make it easier to track amendments.
We would normally expect the entry list data to be supplied in a format that we can import directly; the easiest formats for us to deal with are Excel and csv, other formats may be possible but please discuss it with us in advance.
Decide on a system for providing interim results to competitors in the field. The available options are:
1. provision of printed results from a portable computer, connected either over the Internet to HQ, with printer (and a photocopier if the printer is slow) in the field,
2. provision of printed results sent by fax from the results room and photocopied in the field,
3. ferrying of printed results from the results room,
We believe that field results are important, because they allow all competitors to keep track of their own detailed performance and that of their rivals (this may be particularly important in class battles), and they enable queries to be resolved earlier. Experience shows that displaying results is usually not satisfactory. To be effective field results information needs to be handed to competitors.
Our current recommendations are in the order listed above. Using options 1 or 2, each field results team should consist of at least three people, one to run the fax or remote computer and the photocopier, one to issue results to competitors, and one to ferry information back and forth. The field results team needs access to a telephone and a mains electricity supply. Clubs will be responsible for providing paper, photocopier, and fax machines. For option 1, the portable computer and modem to connect to the public switched telephone network may be provided by TCS if suitable notice is given.
Venues and communications
It is usually preferable for the computer equipment to remain at the finish venue all day, although in specific circumstances it may be worth using more than one venue. Where results are being phoned in, the incoming telephones and the computer should be in the same room so that the operator can type times directly into the computer from the telephone. We do not advocate copying times down on to paper from the telephone and then inputting them into the computer as we believe this further step is a potential source of error. Depending on the layout of card collection points more than one incoming line may be required. If these lines are coming through a hotel switchboard, the switchboard staff must respond quickly to incoming calls. If option 1 for field results is being used or results are being sent to update an Internet web site then access to an internet connection (broadband or WiFi) or a telephone line suitable for a modem is needed. Clubs should contact us to discuss telephone and/or broadband needs before the event. If broadband will be available you should consider the use of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technology that can provide additional telephone lines over a broadband connection at very economical costs (particularly given the price increase from BT for temporary phone line installation). We can provide advice on short term broadband installations and VOIP equipment and service providers. If arranging special telephone installations consider providing headsets as well as handsets.
Results cannot be passed satisfactorily by radio operating in a simplex mode (and never even consider using the MSA Medical and Safety frequency for results purposes).
When mobile phones are to be used for results purposes a backup plan should be made; e.g. ferrying to nearest public phone box. Many events are operating in areas of marginal mobile cover or where there are few available cells, and press, service, and other event activity is likely to swamp what is available. If mobile phones are used, be aware that many phones do not have sufficient battery lifetime for the length of calls that are typically made by card collection points. Card collection crews should be briefed to fully charge their phones before setting out and if possible have car chargers or spare batteries available. All locations should be tested for a satisfactory signal for the particular network to be used on the day (Vodaphone/O2/T-Mobile/Orange etc).
A separate room should be arranged for VIPs and other officials; the results room is not the place for them to congregate.
The results room should be fairly close to where competitors will congregate, and should also be close to any press room you may be running.
The Results Enquiry system allows interactive interrogation of the results service directly from a suitable networked Windows computer for up-to-date information. Computers and printers connected to the system may be placed in the Press Office for the Press Officer's use and/or placed in an area where competitors congregate for general public use.
Instant update of results is available via a scrolling display of all competitors known to the results service in position order on the highest numbered stage for which results information is available. The display shows class positions and totals in addition to overall positions. It is run automatically by the computer. These displays can be usefully placed where competitors will congregate at the end of the event. These results are suitable for projection on to a large screen.
If you intend to run large displays or enquiry terminals consider ease and safety of laying cables from the results room to the proposed locations. We can now utilise wireless networking and/or ethernet over mains (Homeplug) technology to connect the enquiry terminals to our servers; however it is extremely difficult to predict in advance whether a wireless network/Homeplug will work well in a particular venue.
Results can be automatically updated to a web site with overall and class results, stage times and press comments. This option requires some advance planning and TCS should be consulted in advance.
Results can be distributed as SMS text messages. Each text message shows the leading seven or eight competitors overall or in class or a category. The system runs automatically once details of the phone numbers and results requirements have been set up. There is a cost associated with sending each messages and TCS should be consulted in advance about the financial arrangements.
Besides card collect personnel in the field, one or two assistants (perhaps more if you are running more than about ten stages) should be arranged for HQ. Their job will be to enter data into the computer from the telephoned times. Willingness and accuracy of typing numbers on a keyboard is more important than outright typing speed. The assistants at HQ do not need to know a lot about rallies. At the end of the event there is a need for a reasonable number of experienced people to assist in resolving queries from time cards and check sheets. If the auditing option is being used (i.e. checking times of day entered into the system from time cards against printing clock records or check sheets),an audit teams of two people can be usefully employed as soon as check sheets start returning to HQ. If suitable clocks are being used for timing purposes (e.g. ECM Rally timers) then the bulk of the audit can be undertaken automatically although a manual check of any anomalies is still required.
All necessary computer equipment will be provided. The standard method of reproduction of results is by photocopier. Clubs are responsible for providing paper and a suitable photocopier. Even if final results are not being produced at the end of the event it is extremely useful if a photocopier is available for providing small numbers of copies of interim results for display and for the press.
You should consider carefully how to produce final results if you want copies available for distribution on the night of the event. It is often worth producing a comparatively small number of sets for immediate distribution to the press before starting to make the total number required.
One month before the event
Send a copy of the regulations to TCS. Liaison officer should contact the nominated TCS operator to discuss arrangements. Consider whether to issue start documentation cards to competitors. We find such a card (filled in by competitors prior to arriving at documentation) carrying all the information found on the entry forms (including names of driver and co-driver, car, class, award and championship eligibilities and championship registration numbers) can be very helpful in ensuring a correct entry list and award/championship eligibilities early in the day.
One week before the event
Send a set of final instructions, entry list, name, bogey, target and mileage for each stage, details of all controls (including a time schedule) and all road section targets and a set of time cards if available to the nominated TCS contact.
When briefing control marshals
It is important that marshals at time controls of any kind are adequately briefed on how time cards and check sheets are to be filled in, and the importance of clear, legible figures on both time cards and check sheets. Emphasise that on all events check sheets are looked at carefully as a matter of routine, and they should be filled in as carefully as competitors' time cards. Emphasise that if a note on a check sheet is intended to call attention to an irregularity, it should be clearly intelligible to the results room staff who are likely to have no knowledge of what has happened at that control beyond what the check sheet or report form tells them.
When briefing card collect teams and the closing car
The absolute minimum number of people to operate a card collect control is two (one to collect, one to phone). When briefing card collect personnel, arrange a system for returning check sheets and time cards to the results room as soon as possible. The ideal situation is for the card collect personnel to await the arrival of the course closing car, collect from the course closing car all the control check sheets, report forms, and other paperwork that it has collected, together with any time cards and damage declarations it has collected from retired competitors, and then return immediately to HQ with the time cards, check sheets, and all other paperwork. The worst possible situation is where the check sheets are carried right round the route in the course closing car.
Instruct card collect crews to report to HQ by telephone on arrival at their location, and to pass their telephone number to HQ at this time so that we may contact them if necessary. They should be briefed to make the first call with time card information as soon as the first competitor's time card arrives at their post. Thereafter they should telephone HQ as and when instructed, and if a gap develops in the arrival of competitors they should let the results room know, and pass on what times they have. This is particularly important if the gap develops early in the field on a normally-seeded event when the card collect point is holding the time cards of early competitors (as the results service may well need these cards to issue an interim leader board to the press office). As a guideline, instruct card collects to phone in every 10 minutes. If the time card is long, we may well decide to hold the telephone line open for the whole duration of the passage of the event through that control. If the card collect after the final stage is not at HQ it is particularly important that times are passed to HQ from that card collect as soon as they are available as a leader board after the last stage will be needed for many different purposes.
Brief the closing car crew to ensure that all check sheets and other paperwork they collect are marked with the appropriate control name and number, and to ensure that they keep collected paperwork in control sequence order. The closing car crew should attempt to obtain a short reason for retirement from all retired competitors that they pass on route, and should collect partially completed time cards and damage declarations from retired competitors. Any time cards which reach the results team before the preparation of final results will be included in the final results.
Brief personnel who are returning time cards and check sheets to HQ that they should sort time cards which have been telephoned in into car number order as they are driving back to HQ. (This saves time in HQ once the time cards and check sheets are returned.) Time cards which have not been telephoned in for any reason should be kept in a separate pile and brought to the attention of the HQ results team when the paperwork is delivered to the results room.
On the day
Provide a pack including road book, time cards and all other information supplied to competitors. If an organisers manual or safety manual has been prepared then it is useful to have a copy available. When the final documentation session has finished provide a list of amendments and lists of crews eligible for all additional awards and championships. The entries secretary should be available to verify the updated entry list printed by the computer. It is often worth copying this for issue to competitors at the start or on route so that they may verify their own entry list details during the day.
Remember that the Official Notice Board should be readily identifiable. If the Press Office is maintaining a separate results display, it must not be possible to confuse this with the Official Notice Board. The press should avoid using the word "provisional" when describing results until they have been formally declared Provisional by the Clerk of the Course.
The standard results set consists of:-
Times are normally shown in minutes, and seconds (and tenths where appropriate) and totals in hours minutes and seconds (and tenths where appropriate).
Modified versions of the standard printouts can often be provided to suit particular organisers' needs. Where the amount of software required is small, no charge will be made. At least three weeks notice of particular requirements is usually necessary.
For events which are rounds of a championship for which the results service is providing the championship results service (Silverstone Tyres BTRDA or MSA English championships), a summary of championship positions, including points scored on that day's event, will usually be available shortly after results become final. We suggest that this is a useful addition to the event final results distributed to competitors.Copyright Tynemouth Computer Services 1985, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010. Revised 8th December 2010