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OpenTrack: Open Data, Open Standards and Open Source in Athletics


Thursday, 6 October 2016 at 09:00 - Friday, 7 October 2016 at 13:30 (CEST)

OpenTrack: Open Data, Open Standards and Open Source...
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General Admission 23 Tickets 6 Oct 2016 Free  

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OpenTrack: Open Data, Open Standards and Open Source in Athletics

Jointly presented by European Athletics and ReportLab

We aim to bring better software to athletics at every level.


Below the international level, athletics is run by volunteers.  They spend far too much of their time processing and checking entries and results, with paper, spreadsheets and email - time which could be spent growing the sport.  And the “customer experience” is poor compared to many other sports.   


Meanwhile, the systems we do have are usually built and maintained by solitary volunteers using older software - or commissioned long ago by governing bodies and not maintained.


We can do better.  With modern software tools, it should be possible to connect federations, clubs, team managers and athletes; to manage competitions with mobile devices as they happen; and to have live, engaging results - from national championships down to the school sports day. Within our sport there are thousands of software and data professionals who can help.

We propose to get things started with an open standards process. We will define...

  • Open reference data sets of clubs and venues which anyone can use.
  • A formal standard for how to exchange start lists, meeting programmes and meeting results, including exactly how performances may be encoded.
  • Freely available tools to check against standards, convert easily in between them and do useful things with the data.

We will always need different systems and vendors in the sport. But by using an interchangeable standard, they will be able to focus on what they do best, saving time and money at all levels of the sport and allowing the creation of many new tools.

The Open Data Conference is the right event, at the right time, to start this process. It provides a fantastic chance for sports administrators to understand what is happening in other sectors, and to see how Open Data policies are unleashing growth and new opportunities.  And if you're writing athletics software or dealing with data, we'd love to see what you're doing, and there is much to learn at OpenDataCon. We aim to assemble a critical mass of stakeholders in one place to launch this process.

How to register

  1. Please sign up for OpenDataCon here - it's free, but you must pre-register.   Mention the Athletics track in the comments box.  They will email you back within 48 hours with a simple registration process.
  2. Please also register for the athletics track here at the bottom of this page, so we know who's coming.

Provisional schedule

As far as we know, this is the first open, public conference on athletics data.  We’ll be refining the agenda up to the start.  If there’s anything you’d like to say or show, please get in touch!  Most of the topics will be panels, with short talks from a variety of speakers.


Thursday afternoon - 14:00-18:00

Thursday’s session aims to be more “technical”: we’ll look in detail at athletics data, in layers.   Programming experience is not needed, but we assume you have spent enough time staring at spreadsheets of entries and results to know about the sport.  As we go, we can be making notes towards a common standard.  If you can’t arrive until later in the day, don’t worry - just turn up when you can.

14:00-14:10 Welcome - Nicolas Launois, European Athletics

14:10-14:30 The Open Data ecosystem - Maurizio Napolitano, FBK/ODI

What is Open Data?  Why is it important?  What are the key license types applicable in sport? Who gets to decide?

14:30-14:50  Open Reference Data - Andy Robinson, ReportLab

As an “easy warmup” we’ll look at information which (we hope) people agree should be publicly available:  the existence of clubs and venues; and listings of upcoming and past competitions.  How do we identify these things, globally?  How could such a directory help?  How soon can we have it?

14:50-15:10 Entries and competition management - Andy Robinson, ReportLab

What do we need to take entries quickly and accurately?  How much info about the athlete is really needed?  How much time can be saved if we get it right? Who’s doing what?

15:10-15:30 Making the most of results - Mirko Jalava, Tilastopaja

A tour of some of the complexities and challenges in building the world’s most comprehensive database of elite athletics results.

15:30-16:00  The standards process - Martin Alvarez, W3C:

What is a standard? How are they formed? How does the process works?

At a practical level, what needs to be done - by spreadsheet users and programmers?


--- break ---

16:30-18:00 Standards workshop

Time to roll our sleeves up and start to work on some of the topics,  fields, data models and information needed. ReportLab and Tilastopaja will kick things off and we’ll aim to nail down requirements using online collaboration tools. 

Thursday night - dinner in Madrid

Tentative venue:  http://www.casamariaplazamayor.com/

Friday morning - IFEMA, 09:00-12:00 & 13:00-15:00

Friday’s session will be strategic rather than technical, aimed at sports administrators.  Where are we now?  Where do we want to be?  How can we get there?

Keynote: 09:00-09:30 - an information strategy for athletics

What are the problems in athletics organisation?  Volunteers wasting time on antiquated entry systems? Difficulty of uploading results? Athlete frustration at time to register and delays in seeing results? No common standards?

But it works (just about) why fix it?      Free up volunteers’ time to coach/run events. Improve athletes experience and keep them in the sport.


Why has noone fixed it?  Governing bodies do not have time or expertise     They are spending time and resources maintaining legacy systems

9:30-10:00 Open Data, Open Standards and Open Source

What are these and how do they work?  Can we collaborate on better solutions? Are there good models from other sectors who have solved problems by collaborating? 

10:00-10:30  How modern software is built

What can be achieved now, with modern software platforms? What buzzwords does a non-technician need to know?

  • Authentication and Authorization

  • ReSTful web sites

  • Web Service and API-based development

  • Mobile development

  • Reusable Web components

  • NoSQL databases and “Big Data”

10:30-11:00 Personal data and privacy

What are the challenges in exchanging athlete data?  Are federations allowed to share?  Do data protection laws vary between countries?   Are dates of birth “personal data”?  Can we form a common policy?


We’ll discuss the data protection policies and practices in different countries in athletics.  We can also learn from the many experts at OpenDataCon in other fields of government and health care.

11:00-11:30 The OpenTrack vision and roadmap

We’ll present an potential plan for developing standards and building systems on them.  We expect lots of questions!


--- break ----

The way forward: 13:00-15:00

We’ll finish with a panel session where we can try to agree on initial steps forwards.  Who can open what?  Would we like to tackle problems together?  What resources can you bring?

Most people are flying back at some point in the evening.  There will be plenty of time afterwards to speak in smaller groups.

Speaker, panelists and attendees

  • Nicolas Launois, Technology Manager, European Athletics
  • Andy Robinson, Managing Director, ReportLab.
  • Mirko Jalava, Managing Director, Tilastopaja, Finland  (Europe’s leading results service for 24 years, and supplier of statistics to European Athletics).
  • Martin Alvarez, Fundacion CTIC / World Wide Web Consortium, Spain
  • Maurizio Napolitano, Foundation Bruno Kessler, Italy and adviser to Open Data Institute

We also have confirmed attendees from

  • Raoul Rall, IT Director, French Federation
  • Martin Mastný, Statistician, Czech Federation
  • Santiago Manso, CTO for Major Events, ATOS Origin, and colleagues

We'll be extending and refining the schedule as people sign up.


Practical Information

We have timed this so it's possible to fly out on Thursday morning and back on friday evening.  If in town sooner, please let us know as some of us are there 

Getting there: conference, airport and town

Underground line 8 runs directly from the airport to the conference centre (next stop) and to Nuevos Ministerios downtown.  Most of the IODC organisers are staying near Nuevos Ministerios; anywhere between there and downtown should work.   Here’s a map


We regret that no single hotel appears to have a large block of rooms. We suggest staying either near Nuevos Ministerios, or near the centre (Sol, Gran Via, Plaza Mayor) where we will be meeting for dinner.



Please contact Nicolas Launois for more info.

Do you have questions about OpenTrack: Open Data, Open Standards and Open Source in Athletics? Contact ReportLab
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When & Where

Centro de convenciones IFEMA NORTE
Av. Partenón, 5,
28042 Madrid

Thursday, 6 October 2016 at 09:00 - Friday, 7 October 2016 at 13:30 (CEST)

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