Doing sport locally can be simpler

sportsplaces.uk prototype

Finding and running local places to do sports could be simpler — I’ve made a prototype to show how — sportplaces.uk

I’ve written how right now sport doing locally is hard.

Find, compare and book a thing

Finding a local place to do sport shouldn’t take much information, and the information needed should be contextually relevant to you; what sport you want to do, where you live, how far you’re able to travel, how many people you’ll be doing sport with.

Then, being able to compare times, prices and distance would be great. It allows people to compare the market, which is difficult now. You could suggest alternative activities near you like GoodGym or other volunteering like what Sport England promote.

Having digital proof you’ve booked a time and a place is a useful thing. The proof shows you’ve actually booked it, meaning less double bookings, lost bookings, and disputes if you’ve paid or not.

Motivating places to make data open

Making sport places simpler to find, compare and book would be relatively easy. Opening the data to make this possible is what’s tricky. But not impossible.

At the moment data about venues, sports they offer, the time they’re available, prices is hard to get at — it’s stuck in spreadsheets, legacy software, and wall charts. Open Data Institute and Sport England are working to fix just that.

A really important thing part of this is motivating people to open and maintain that data. Not big, central institutions, but the people who run local leisure centres, school sports halls, playing fields, snooker clubs and swimming pools.

How to do this? Give them better tools to do their job — listings, bookings, payments that are usable, reliable and free to use.

Better services make better data. Better data makes better services. Design for data as Sarah Gold says.

Register and manage places

Register a place could be simple as listing your home on Airbnb. Then one registration at a time, we build the data infrastructure to provide simpler sport services; venues, sports they offer, opening times, prices.

Being able to manage listings, bookings and payments for the people running sports places will maintain the open data, simply by using the service that helps them do their jobs. That keeps this fast changing data updated and useful.

Better policy making

When I worked in government, a civil servant from DCMS told me something — they don’t know how many people are doing sports week to week, month to month. This must make it hard to judge if certain policies like the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy are working.

If sportsplaces.uk and others services existed they could really help with that problem. Then we can identify groups of people and areas that need more places and support to do sport and be active.

Next steps building simpler sport services