Our ability to embrace and exploit new technology has determined our success in many ways. From our first PNSW event back in 2008 where we introduced an on-line membership process (much to the dismay of some) we are now almost entirely enveloped by technology designed to reduce the time and effort taken to process memberships, event registrations etc.
The ever-changing technology at our disposal means we are always playing catch-up. Not only when modernising our administrative processes, but also our mindset. PNSW can try to put systems in place to create efficiencies, but they must be accompanied by actual benefits that encourage our members to adopt them.
Our new website is proving to be a great improvement on its predecessor. By incorporating popular social media streams such as facebook in our news items on the home page, we can stay up-to-date with current issues, sporting achievements and discussions. It is a fresh, ever-changing resource, and worth a good squiz. Even the resources page has documents on a vast number of interesting topics. Rumour has it there’s even a recipe section.
A primary example of the way technology can help us as administrators is its ability to combine all the membership processes for AC, PaddleNSW and Clubs into the one on-line transaction. If we extended that idea to enable rolling memberships without a fixed annual start date (like 1st July) it would allow paddlers to join a club at any time and have a full 12 month’s membership (including PNSW and AC membership) from that point on. The technology behind this is complicated, and will involve a major change in membership policy at all tiers, however the benefits will be substantial. Combined membership registration is available now, while rolling memberships are still some way off. There is only so much that an organisation of our size can achieve in a given time, but we are getting there.
One small hurdle for rolling memberships is the membership verification process. When memberships and event registrations are separated, there is no way of verifying membership status without physically importing a membership file into the event registration system. Using the AC system for both Memberships and Event registrations allows the membership status to be checked, while at the same time avoiding the need to enter full personal details over and over for following events.
In addition, the AC event registration process cannot proceed while a membership is out of date, prompting the paddler to rejoin.
There have been some bugs in the AC system, but these are rapidly being resolved. One of the major steps forward has been the move to the widely supported ‘webscorer’ results system. Registration files from the AC ‘sporting dna’ entry system are seamlessly exported to webscorer, which then provides simple, quick results almost instantly. Results can be compared event to event, and even across state borders. Many other states are using this system for their events now.
We used to leave digital technology behind when we got on the water. Not any more.
We now rely on our phones for nearly every communications process. They can track our location, give us up-to-the-minute weather updates, contact emergency services, even log our fitness. They are an integral part of our sport, along with GPS and other specialised training devices.
Dealing with changes in technology can be frustrating, but we may as well embrace it. We can cherry pick the good from the poor and use it to our advantage. The collateral damage however, may be the extinction of handwriting.
And on this note, I hand the chair’s baton to Bob Turner, who will take on the role from the upcoming AGM. I’ve enjoyed my two stints at the helm (Tim Hookins providing much appreciated relief in between), but will still serve on the board in a less prominent role. There is still much to do, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of our projects through to completion.
I must mention in passing that the role of PaddleNSW is often misunderstood. PaddleNSW is a collection of people who selflessly wish to contribute to the health and organisation of NSW paddling. In the same way that club committee members contribute to their own club activities, PaddleNSW board members contribute to the benefit of all PaddleNSW members, representing NSW paddlers in a diverse range of issues, committees, etc. We are there to improve your paddling experience. We are your representatives, and you certainly are us. Please support what we are trying to achieve, as we are acting purely in your interests.
Tony Hystek – PNSW Chairperson