In light of the discussion at the L3 controller workshop today where some people believe the technology is always right!
I didn't say it is, I just said that the likelihood of user error is still much greater than that of system error...
I thought this had been resolved a couple of years ago where Sportident were brought kicking and screaming to actually admit there was a fundamental flaw with their technology and this does occur on occasion.
Tell me and I won't believe. Disqualify me and I will. My moment of light came at the JWOC carnival in Dubbo. It has happened to me once since then. The dilemma is that, as Jenny says, the odds of it being user error are higher with no prior information. And there are those orienteers who will never believe they have made a mistake. The fear is having to check control units after every event.
How much does SI make from Orienteering? Do we have no leverage with them at an international level, get them to fix the technology or lose business. Where is the competitive edge on E-Punching?
(written from the perspective of someone who worked in the tech / software industry for 25 year and has an understanding of disruption and how quickly new / better / cheaper solutions can take off, we should not be lead by the technology but define what we need)
Of course we've known about the issues for a very long time - JWOC in Dubbo was 2007 and the issue has been discussed many times on AP. Here's one such discussion - https://www.attackpoint.org/discussionthread.jsp/m...
It also happened to my son Torren at the last control in the 2013 Australian Sprint Champs at Canberra Grammar. I actually saw him punch the control unit, but it was not recorded and he lost an Australian Championship because of it.
I had always thought that he must have heard the beep from another competitor, but know I believe him when he said he was certain that he punched.
There must be many others with similar stories.
I guess it would be good if awareness of this issues becomes broader so that if someone protests against a mispunch of this type, then there is a set of actions that can be taken to reach a fair outcome.
I'm not sure what actions could practically be taken, though. (Isn't it the case that in SI Air mode the punch is only recorded on the card, not the unit at all? So if the punch is missing...)
The instances that I am aware of were all with the conventional SI cards.
Perhaps SI Air may help?
If you accept that there is a chance that SI units malfunction, the fact that it might also be runner error becomes irrelevant: you have to give the runner the benefit of the doubt. The only question is what percentage chance of unit error is acceptable. It has to be extremely low to be acceptable and it seems the anecdotal evidence is that it is common enough that it is no longer feasible to just blame everything on runner error.
For smaller events it shouldn't be a problem to allow for checking of SI units that evening and subsequent amendment of results. For Championships it is harder - you need timely results. At such events the organisers would need to have a plan in place for checking units in the terrain if needed. You need someone who is ready to go out at short notice with the necessary equipment to read a unit. If the terrain is such that some controls are particularly remote that person should have plans about how to get to them as fast as possible (may need to have an MTB on hand) and be able to give a estimated time. For really big events ( WOC etc) you would probably want to have people waiting out in the terrain with the necessary equipment - chances are there will be people out there anyway guarding controls, first aid stations, etc).
You would need to consider an appeals/challenge process if someone claims they saw/heard the unit response but no punch was recorded. Do you list them as DQ until the unit has been checked or perhaps introduce a new category - 'result pending' or something similar, until the unit has been checked?
If the rules start to reflect the possibility of unit error it might put more pressure on SI to fix the problem. At the moment the: 'it is always the runner's fault' attitude gives them no incentive to do anything about it.
"You punched too fast" was the line that aggravated me. If the unit gives feedback that it has recorded a stick, it should be recorded. Wonder if Emit, the Chinese or Russian systems have this issue.
There may already be systems which would make SI obsolete. MyOMaps
could be used for club or local events. The GPS/GPRS units used at WOC and other major events will probably come down in price and size equivalent to an SI card. All that's needed is to add an audible/visual signal for the orienteer to confirm they visited the control.
WE have been using it for our summer events. I doubt GPS is ready yet as a substitute for a punching system. Its fine for street orienteering, but suffers both an accuracy and availability problem under canopy. By comparison SI is foolproof.