Data standardisation key for sports sector, says Sport and Recreation Alliance chief executive
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Data standardisation key for sports sector, says Sport and Recreation Alliance chief executive

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The sports sector will need to standardise the way it uses data in order to provide a seamless experience for those wanting to participate in physical activity, according to the chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

Talking to Sports Management following the Alliance’s annual summit – which this year focused on evidencing impact and using data – Emma Boggis said that different organisation in the sector would need to pool the data they collect so that apps could be created to help people easily engage with the physical activity sector.

She said that creating comparison site-like offers, in which consumers could find out about all types of sporting provision, would be more powerful than a platform created in isolation for just one sport or activity.

Boggis highlighted the work of Transport for London (TfL) – which opened up its data to app developers so that users could plan journeys better – was a model that could be followed, and stressed that the sports organisations wouldn’t need to develop the apps themselves.

“We want to be in a place where booking a badminton court is as easy as booking a table in a restaurant,” she said. “If you wanted to book a court now, you probably wouldn’t know how to. That’s not a criticism of badminton, but a reflection of facilities generally.

“While individual organisations can make data available, the value is in bringing it all together. We don’t want to have to go to one app for information on badminton and another for tennis. That will require organisations to potentially change they way they collect data, or at least adapt the way they collect data so that there is that standard approach.”

Boggis called on Sport England to “play a leadership role” in terms of data standardisation, and revealed that chief executive Jennie Price – who delivered a keynote address at the summit – mentioned that those bidding for funding from the quango would have to make their data available.

While the majority of large NGBs and sport organisations have insight and data teams, Boggis said some bodies needed support and may have to recruit from outside the sector to skill up. She also said the Sport and Recreation Alliance would support its members by providing materials and making sure the sector informs any overarching decisions made about the use or data.

“Data is a hot topic, one that’s not going away,” she explained. “We want to find good practice like TfL and share that with the sector.”

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The sports sector will need to standardise the way it uses data in order to provide a seamless experience for those wanting to participate in physical activity, according to the chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
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