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Discussion: Changes of SI number. Protocol you follow

in: Orienteering; General

Sep 24, 2017 8:30 PM # 
Hi, I am a spanish Sportident controller, I have managed a lot of medium and large events.

In races, I constantly face the problem of runners who have made their entry with incorrect SI number (usually, it is because the entry has been made by their club). In general, organizers don't seem to understand how problematic this is and the need to reduce this incidents.

I am interested in knowing how this is handled in your country or region, like:
· You just accept the changes even after the runner has finished the race.
· You check all SI cards at start, and somehow communicate this changes to the SI controller.
· You make the runner pay a "fine" (say 2€ or more)
· You make the runner fill in a paper sheet, so that at least he/she has some kind of bothering.
· You just don't accept any change and runner is disqualified.

Hope to get some of your comments about this. Thanks in advance.
Sep 24, 2017 8:38 PM # 
My club keeps a database of members and their SI numbers. When someone registers for a local event, that info is automatically filled in. My national federation has something similar for its registration systems, which is more commonly used for major events. Also, orienteers have the incentive that when the results come into AttackPoint, the run will be tied to the AP member with that SI number, iiuc, which affects how the results are listed in AP, as well as AP rankings. In terms of reducing the instances in which a family member grabs the wrong SI card from the O kit bag before heading to the start, maybe people can tie colored ribbons, according to each family member's favorite color. Or buy cards with different colors. Or keep separate O kits for each family member.
Sep 24, 2017 8:52 PM # 
In Texas we send them to tRicky in Perth, where they have to follow him around by bike, never drifting back more than 10cm from his rear wheel, regardless of obstacles.
Sep 24, 2017 9:11 PM # 
@alfanhui, if there is a check-in process before the race, that's when SI numbers should be checked. If a club submits numbers for their members I don't understand why you would penalize (with a fine) an individual runner. Best case if you don't have a pre-start check-in process is to check at the start (assuming you have a checklist) and report any number disagreements back to the SI manager.

Most US local clubs do have databases with their members' numbers already entered. For many clubs' local events we register and pay at the site before running (some do have online pre-registration, but many don't). At larger national events members input their own information as they pre-register, but as JimBaker has mentioned, federation members have a lot of standard info pre-filled once they log in to register.

Not accepting any charge and disqualifying the runner seems rather harsh, unless it's a blatant repeat offender. You do want them to come back again, don't you?
Sep 24, 2017 11:36 PM # 
At local meets, we have the runner go from the registration table to the epunch table. There is a computer set up with the SI master station. When they put their punch in the master, the software (usually MeOS) reads the correct number. If they are in the database and have not swapped their punch with a family member, the right name comes up and we can assign the class. If they are not in the database, we enter the name right then. We rarely look at the SI number they wrote on the registration form, if they even do.

In the US, entries are never made by the club as far as I know.
Sep 24, 2017 11:49 PM # 
The majority of our events involve registering at the start so the problem never occurs but for the few that we do have pre-rego for, if it's a championship then numbers are checked at the start and if the start list gets back to rego before the runner, then it is changed in the system. If not, then the runner has to have it changed once finished.

The only issue we encounter with someone running with an incorrect tag is that it will show an unregistered tag at download and will attempt to slot it in as a reserve. A knowledgeable computer operator will ignore this and change the number to download again. However that involves having a computer operator wheras I know some events in Europe you basically register and download on your own.

I don't think fining or disqualifying a runner is an acceptable solution. Running after my bike as punishment for repeat offenders could work although the cost of airfares to here is rather high.
Sep 25, 2017 2:24 AM # 
Some events make you show your SI card at the start line. If it doesn't match the preregistration list, the change is noted, and has time to get to the results crew before the person finishes. But, a few changes per race is normal and expected; it is really not that difficult to change at the finish that it is worth making a big deal of it. Just save it as a reserve, ask their name, and match it up.

Of course, the teacher at a national school championship event who took all of the individually marked rental SI cards from his student's packets, dropped them all in a hat, and passed them out randomly to his students at the start, deserves a special place in the stupidity hall of fame - yes it actually happened.
Sep 25, 2017 3:43 AM # 
I am interested in knowing how this is handled in your country or region, like:
· You just accept the changes even after the runner has finished the race.

It seems like this is the default option here. A wrongly assigned card is identified at download and the card is assigned properly at that point. Requires that the computer operator have reasonable understanding of software, which is a very good idea anyway.

· You check all SI cards at start, and somehow communicate this changes to the SI controller.

I've never understood the obsessive checking of SI sticks at the start. Rarely does a change in SI number get communicated to the finish-line computer operator in advance of the competitor's arrival at the finish line. Even if it does, I'm not sure it's any easier to deal with in that manner vs. just dealing with it when the competitor does arrive at the finish.

With respect to safety (potential search/rescue issues), as long as you carefully record who (e.g., by name) goes out in the forest, then I think you can do the appropriate "missing runners" checks. We've never launched a search and rescue mission for a missing SI stick. But, for a missing person, yes.
Sep 25, 2017 3:47 AM # 
But it's really easy to generate a list of who started (or more accurately, which SI cards started), by having a Check box in the callup (or by using Start boxes). Might not be as helpful as a list of names, but it's easy to do, and easy to do without errors. Easy has a lot of appeal.
Sep 25, 2017 4:06 AM # 
I do see the appeal of using the Check box to verify who started. But, if doing so requires a second person who is carefully checking the SI numbers of each individual who starts against their name on a start list, then the appeal is more than a bit diminished.

A question ... how often do race organizers download the Check box from the start in order to help them ascertain who is still out in the forest near the end of the event? I've certainly seen organizers use a paper start list to mark off those competitors who are DNS. But, never seen a Check box downloaded to accomplish the same task.
Sep 25, 2017 4:29 AM # 
We probably download our check or start box about once a year to assist in clearing the missing runners list. Usually, we can find what we're looking for on manual lists made at the start, but very occasionally we need to download due to poor manual records.
Sep 25, 2017 4:32 AM # 
In answer to the OP question, we generate a sticker that goes on the bib that includes the estick number. When the competitor picks up the bib, we ask them to check the information on the sticker and report to the epunch crew if it is incorrect. If it doesn't get fixed before they start, we just fix it when they download.
Sep 25, 2017 5:44 AM # 
Finland, rules by O federation state competitor is responsible for using card with correct number, DQ if incorrect card is used.

Card numbers are not checked at start. Changes well in advance are free, last minute changes can have fee.

Rule is there to keep card numbers correct enough on average to not overload finish crew, sorting it out isn't difficult but requires several seconds extra time. I believe in practice competitors are not always disqualified. If they like the organizer can just say they did not advertise correct enough how to make the change and qualify based on that and see if someone makes a protest. But sometimes runners are disqualified, like 2016 ultra long champs men's 3rd finisher was disqualified for using incorrect Emit card.
Sep 25, 2017 7:55 AM # 
We probably download our check or start box about once a year to assist in clearing the missing runners list.

Do you then go searching for people if you discover a year later that they didn't finish?
Sep 25, 2017 8:19 AM # 
Just to show that things can happen at the last moment, one year the top fell off my SI stick 30 minutes before my start in the WMOC sprint qualifier. A new card was very hurriedly acquired and the organisers coped.
Sep 25, 2017 8:55 AM # 
At our recent school champs with >200 competitors (perhaps that's considered small by Spanish standards), only the last four digits of the seven digit tag number had been pre-entered for all the competitors so my fellow computer operator and I had to go through and add all 200+ of them (fortunately the first four digits were all the same but it was still a hassle). The problem was only discovered when the first runner came through and from there it was a landslide of finishers trying to download!
Sep 25, 2017 9:19 AM # 
Speaking as someone who puts a lot of effort into making events spectator friendly with radios, results displays, commentary and video, there have been a lot of times when I would of liked to have seen people who don’t register SI changes before they go out, disqualified. Especially as often you find it is the same offenders – who maybe choose their SI to match their shirt. As the maker of the radio units there is also nothing worse than having the announcer say, “we haven’t picked up xxxx going through the spectator control, we must be having a problem with the radio”. So yes, at major events, the download station is too late.

BMay - I have been at a school event where we did have a lost young girl, and being able to check the controls for their SI number was a big help in trying pin point where they got to and where to look.
Sep 25, 2017 1:49 PM # 
The problem with depending on a Check box to generate a list of who started is that people with SIAC cards are being advised to not punch the Check box at non-Air+ events in order to avoid turning on the air mode in their stick when it isn't needed.

See e.g. here:
Sep 25, 2017 4:53 PM # 
There are several intermixed topics here.

The biggest problem is someone using a chip assigned to someone else. If you've got a valid entry, and they happen to be on the same course, such as school groups, it's horrible. {"Horrible" is perhaps too strong.}

But if someone uses their backup chip or a borrowed chip that **is not already registered**, it's usually really easy to handle these if you're using good software. I use OE2010 for most events, and it's almost trivial to handle this second case.

And actually, OE2010 has a function to exchange chips (with results) between two competitors for the first case of swapped but registered chip numbers.

If I recognize a coach just "handed out SIs randomly", I delete all that team's preregistered (but "not yet downloaded") SI numbers, and assign by bib number or by asking them their name and course/class when they download. (School teams often have siblings, and siblings often have first names that share the same first letter, so this is also difficult, but manageable.)
Sep 25, 2017 5:26 PM # 
The OP states ...
I constantly face the problem of runners who have made their entry with incorrect SI number
and ...
organizers don't seem to understand how problematic this is and the need to reduce this incidents.

Maybe the solution is better software to handle this relatively common problem more easily and without it being problematic.

Runner comes in to finish and name doesn't match. It should be quite easy to assign the SI number to the correct name. If the SI # is already in the system, then the software could automatically delete or modify the SI# for the person it was originally registered to.

Multi-day events could be more challenging to manage, e.g., if runner uses one card one day and a different card the next. Another issue is if more than one runner uses the same SI on a given day. All of these seem like things a good piece of software should be able to handle.
Sep 25, 2017 5:48 PM # 
If I recognize a coach just "handed out SIs randomly"

This has happened more often than just the one, infamous occasion mikeminium described??
Sep 25, 2017 6:24 PM # 
Hi, thanks for all your answers, I get the general picture.

I (the OP) use OE2010/OEscore/OS2010, and yes, technically it is easy to change a runner's chip. But if you have to change a lot of them at download time, it becomes really annoying, because I feel that extra work is for no justified reason (runner should check his own chip before the race), and that effort should be used on more valuable things for the event. My question was more a "rulebook", "protocol" or "best practices" question than a technical one.

PS: tRicky, would you accept if we pay you and your bike the plain tickets so that punished runners have to run after you?
Sep 25, 2017 9:58 PM # 
@GuyO: Just once with about twenty students. Typically now it's a group of like five. Several times, though.
Sep 25, 2017 10:05 PM # 
@alfanhui: Are you using the tool at the bottom of the "Read Chips" window to assign the chip result to the runner, or are you typing the SI number manually? Because the tool makes it very quick.

He's a question for debate: If you're in line at the download, and assuming the download box appears to be ready, meaning it doesn't have a coupling stick in it or it isn't covered with something, should you ever wait to download?

Personally, I think people remember the old days of OE2003 where if you just downloaded with an issue, it made it more difficult. My opinion (with OE2010) is that runners should just stick it in the download box when they get to the front of the line. (Is that a bad idea?)
Sep 25, 2017 11:05 PM # 
Its a bad idea to not be watching closely for when someone comes in as reserve. If you just have a line of people downloading, they may wander off thinking everything is ok before you have a chance to figure out who they are.
Sep 26, 2017 12:22 AM # 
If you have a splits printer then it should issue the person his or her splits with a name at the top. If it is not their name, they should wait until the problem is resolved but then I also realise that runners tend to ignore the details such as whose name is printed on their splits printout.

If you're in line at the download, and assuming the download box appears to be ready, meaning it doesn't have a coupling stick in it or it isn't covered with something, should you ever wait to download?

I wish this were the case at our local events where more often than not, finishing runners get stuck behind queues of registering participants where all manner of problems occur (e.g. what course to run, how much to pay, how do I orienteer, etc). OE2010 can handle downloads and registrations at the same time. If I know I'm going to run more than one course beforehand, I try and register both together to avoid the need to wait in three queues (register, download & register, download) but one of our computer operators doesn't like people registering for more than one course and makes you come back, thus creating more queues.

Another issue is if more than one runner uses the same SI on a given day.

Does this actually happen? 95% of our participants know that this doesn't work as it overwrites the previous runner's time and in fact you cannot register the same chip twice without problems. The other 5% have bad memories despite having orienteered for decades.
Sep 26, 2017 2:33 AM # 
I handle many reused chips. We don’t charge for second, third, and fourth courses. It’s “the usual suspects” mostly, but we encourage it. It’s easy to handle. Just look up: “Is this your second course?” Then just answer “No, don’t overwrite”, then create a new entry, with no SI number. And assign it using the read chips buttons after hitting refresh. For school events, where we want them to do multiple courses, it’s not terrible. But it’s not for newbies. It’s probably the most demanding download duty. A-meets, with pre-registration, are a cake walk. Just never, ever hit overwrite unless you’re certain. {It’s easier if the starter writes down that they’re going out. But don’t retype the SI number or you have to answer questions. I do curse the software developers, because it should be possible to just look at the times and controls: “Hey, this is a reused chip. The punch times are different. It’s a valid finish on a different course than the last time through. ‘Would you like to create a new entry for {name}?’ ‘Yes.’”}
Sep 26, 2017 2:36 AM # 
Uncle JiM:
"A-meets, with pre-registration are a cake walk."

At this years Aus Champs, the organiser told me he changed over 100 SI numbers. I suspect mainly because of the Aus Champs using SI air, so PPL had bought new sticks since entering
Sep 26, 2017 2:42 AM # 
Indeed. The pre-work is significant. {I have agreed to dispense with bibs on any A-meet except Interscholastics. I would have regretted it in the case you mention.}
Sep 26, 2017 3:06 AM # 
If people in our state run multiple courses, we just assign them a new chip.

Jim, I could see that problem happening a mile away given most people have their stick number in Eventor but using SI Air they no doubt would have forgotten it would be a different number.
Sep 26, 2017 3:38 AM # 
I could understand a coach of juniors wanting to deter loss of expensive SI cards by keeping them and handing them out just before the start. Or using the cards as a means to know when juniors have started (so that some don't start without the coach knowing, and thus "disappearing" for an hour or two without the coach being sure where they are).
Sep 26, 2017 4:07 PM # 
But if you use a new chip, it doesn't upload automatically to your Attackpoint training log.
Sep 26, 2017 8:30 PM # 
I have agreed to dispense with bibs on any A-meet except Interscholastics

We use bibs at virtually every event. Despite the work involved, you'd be hard pressed to convince me to dispense with them.
Sep 27, 2017 12:37 AM # 
I haven't seen the point of bib numbers in years.
Sep 27, 2017 1:46 AM # 
I haven't seen the point in expensive specialized epunch systems in years. Just use modern mobile devices, maybe cheap beacons at controls. Download could be a tap (or an automatic upload when back in cell range), no swapped SI cards, no download specialist. Maybe even no registrar or starter; register yourself online, pay online, start yourself with a tap. But I digress from the important results nerdiness..."don't hit the overwrite button... Don't... Just don't... It's like crossing the streams... Almost as bad as mixing up SI cards".
Sep 27, 2017 2:47 AM # 
@jjcote I like the bibs for two reasons:

(1) Ease of making manual start and finish lists, which we actually use fairly regularly when clearing the missing runners list. This has been most useful at large, local events with lots of newbies.

(2) The marketing effect of having people running around the park wearing bibs. Very different than just having people running around the park carrying maps.

Neither of these is a must-have. The manual lists are clearly back-up to the epunch system. But so far it's been useful enough that I feel it's worth the small effort to include them in our system.
Sep 27, 2017 2:58 AM # 
I have heard issue #2 before. You're in southern CA, and there may be a lot more other people at your venues to see runners wearing numbers than at other places. Many of the places where I orienteer have nobody there but us. That said, I've also heard the notion that wearing a number makes the participants feel more like they're actually in a race, i.e. that there's also a marketing effect to the orienteers themselves.
Sep 27, 2017 4:02 AM # 
Yes, I believe the marketing effect is both to participants and to the public. I'm not sure if there is any club other than us who have used bibs at local events, so not a lot of data on what clubs experience with that is. We also have some pretty decent crowds and use preregistration. In effect, our registration system is very much like attending an A-meet even for a local event.
Sep 27, 2017 5:43 AM # 
Is preregistration required at LAOC events?
Sep 27, 2017 8:53 AM # 
Sadly however accurate this statement might be
"because I feel that extra work is for no justified reason (runner should check his own chip before the race)"
It just won't happen, or they left theirs at home and have run with an old one, or their kids picked up the wrong one. Having done this many a time the best solution is a very easy way of doing it in the software you are using.
Sep 27, 2017 8:55 AM # 
@cedarcreek: if you know in advance that a runner is going out on a second course, there's a trick for OE: edit the chip-number of the first course to some random unused number, for example prepend a "1". Changing the chip-number will NOT delete the downloaded data - deleting the chip-number WILL. Then, create the second entry for the runner with the correct chip-number, and download will work without the "overwrite?"-query.

@fossil: the information that a SIAC not checked will not use battery is plain BS. The SIAC will beep and blink at the control, so it is definitely using its battery.
Sep 27, 2017 2:50 PM # 
@jSh: Again, that messes up the Attackpoint training log feature. I have done that on occasion, and changed back the number later if I knew the runner was on Attackpoint. But normally, it's so easy that I just do it my way. I do add a 1 or 9 to chip numbers sometimes when I know I'll be in-the-woods, so that the person filling-in for me won't have to deal with it. But again, we sometimes have many second courses, and it's just too much hassle to change the SI numbers. I will admit that I and others do occasionally overwrite a chip, and I'm expert at typing in the splits in Evaluate Chips.

My biggest recommendation for the computer users is to never drag your cursor over a button you don't want to press. I go around active buttons (such as "Would you like to overwrite?"). I'm a touchpad user (carrying a mouse around is just a pain), so random button activations are an occasional thing.

Regarding bibs: We are unlikely to stop using bibs at A-meets for many reasons, including: Start Crew workload, identifying runners in photos, interactions with police and rangers, as well as other park users.
Sep 27, 2017 3:48 PM # 
@GuyO LAOC encourages preregistration but does not require it. We currently get about 80% to 90% of our entries preregistering. About 1/2 of those prepay, others pay on site. It has really helped to reduce the size of the registration line at our events. Although, for some courses, there is still a line at the start.
Sep 27, 2017 3:58 PM # 
@cedarcreek: Understood about AP-linkage.
And don't worry about me dragging anything anywhere - I'm keyboard-centric (and don't get me started about Stephan removing Alt-key definitions from OE2010...)
BTW, instead of typing in splits in Evaluate Chips, you can easily recover an overwritten chip-record using CompetitionDay-Logfiles - be sure to read the help page there on dealing with multiple chip usage!
Sep 27, 2017 6:41 PM # 
@jSh: the information that a SIAC not checked will not use battery is plain BS. The SIAC will beep and blink at the control, so it is definitely using its battery.

Yes it does still beep and blink. However when you punch the check box it also turns on the radio receiver that looks for signals from Air+ controls. And the small green light blinks to alert that Air+ mode is on. If vendors are advising users to skip the check box to avoid this unnecessary added battery drain, are they being misinformed by SI? Which uses more battery, the occasional beep/blink or the continuous-listening radio receiver?
Sep 27, 2017 7:46 PM # 
So, we have two mutually exclusive goals ...
1) the SIAC owner's desire to avoid using the Check box in order to save battery (and future $$ for battery replacement)
2) the event organizer's desire to have every competitor use the Check box during the Start procedure (presumably for safety reasons).

Seems to me that the event organizers safety plan trumps the SIAC owners desire to save a few $$ on battery life.
Sep 27, 2017 7:49 PM # 
Hi @fossil,

Before I get carried away on your recent question, let me say that instead of downloading the check you could also download the clear stations, though this will require supervising the competitors use these, meaning earlier in the start process.

Now about the battery use. Don't forget that we're actually not looking at "or", but rather "and" - the beeping/blinking at controls will always happen (unless deactivated by an avid user with SICfg and a download station). So the crunchy question "how much *more* power does AIR+ cost" - for the expected active time per week of 2 hours compared to 166 hours sleeping (2 one-hour races per week) - that's about 1.2% active time - the beep/blink based on two races with 25 controls is nearly equal in power consumption, but the beep/blink is much more significant, primarily due to the pulsed power draw, which coin-cell lithium batteries don't like. So literally, not punching the check over the published expected SIAC battery life of 4 years will increase SIAC life by around 2 to 3 weeks in our calculation model. Big deal...

And, we at SI hope users would appreciate the contactless punching enough to not discuss saving power, but rather gently pushing organisers and regulatory bodies to activate the Beacon modes...

NB: as you probably guessed from my wording, I work at SI... so I'll leave you to decide if you believe my numbers :)
Sep 27, 2017 7:59 PM # 
Well, yes, that's exactly what I was thinking as I read bmay's note above. He described the two listed goals as being mutually exclusive. However if event organizers were to turn on the beacon mode, SIAC users would then eagerly punch the check box.
Sep 27, 2017 11:44 PM # 
How about if SIAC owners keep a non-SIAC card for non -"beacon" events...
Sep 27, 2017 11:56 PM # 
We actually hear many users appreciate the beep/blink given by the SIAC, even for direct punching events, allowing the infamous "calling home" type action when running away from the control.

And - registration databases nearly nowhere allow storing two SI numbers - one for classic, one of contactless events - thus wrecking havoc to pre-registered chip numbers... and oh wow, here we are, suddenly back on topic again! ;-)
Sep 28, 2017 12:07 AM # 
The only SI card I would recommend buying now is the SIAC. Even in non Air+ events, the feedback from the card is just so much better.

If we could get rid of all the SI-5s in the US it would make my job writing software a lot easier (12hr time on the SI5s, real timestamps on the newer ones), and significantly reduce the mispunch rate due to the slow speed of the cards.
Sep 28, 2017 12:55 AM # 
But they're ugly!

This discussion thread is closed.