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This is a continuation of a discussion that began with the idea of non-member measurers paying an annual membership fee, but just the part of that discussion that branched off into some ways to improve our processes via harnessing the Internet for all measurers.

Expectedly and justifiably so, questions have arisen about whether some version of web submission would work. In no particular order, I will offer my thoughts about some of these concerns:

Maps: there would never be a requirement for electronic maps. There would be a requirement to create (draw) maps to simple standards and scan them to minimal standards. It is then easy to upload scanned maps into the form.

Measurement data: it would not be difficult to establish required fields, and then leave the remainder for a narrative page. For instance, the form would require recording the total number of counts for each measurement. The form would automatically calculate the % difference in the measurement and display the result. For any measuring data that defies a "cookie-cutter" form, we provide a space for the measurer to type in a brief narrative of the measuring techniques and practices he/she employed, along with the minimum measuring data set in support of the methodology. This is what I used to do when I submitted course to John Sissala. I used a macro-enabled Word form to record all the necessary data. I then completed the narrative section to fully explain how the numbers were obtained. John and I both liked this system.

Application Review/Checks and Balances - the basic concept: when the calibration data, measuring data, measuring narrative, certificate application, and map are then all completed and submitted on line, the system generates an email notice to the applicable Regional Certifier indicating that a new certification application is waiting for him/her in our dedicated database. The Regional then signs in to the database at his/her leisure and opens all the new submissions for review, makes any corrections, and then hits "Submit". Gene is then notified similarly, and reviews the work as necessary. When he is satisfied, he hits "Submit", and the certificate blank is automatically populated. He then reviews the certificate for accuracy. If all is well, he or the system forwards the scanned or software-generated map to the USATF Webmaster for posting.

Comments welcome.
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My first comment would only address timing fo the creation of the certificate. It should be created when the measurer submits the app, if it is to be automatically generated. This way, any issues on the certificate can be addressed by the certifier, prior to notification of the Registrar. Certifiers should do the initial review of certs, not the Registrar.
First, in my view this is the wrong place for this as it should be presented to the Council.

Second, as Pete stated there are too many varibles here for this to work.
1. Maps scanned in the correct format(this will not work). How dos the certifier enter his information on the map(effective date and Certificate number)?
2. Do you think all have scanners?
3. The database can only be handled by one person to upload to USATF as well as the maps. You guys don't understand the process.
3. Yes, to have generic sheet for submitting data to a Certifier could work, but the Certifier must see the paper work.
4. Where is there a reduced workload?
5. Are there that many mistakes?

The system we have is working. This is a computer age, but some of these ideas in my view just will not work.
Gene, a few thoughts:

1. GIMP and numerous other free programs allow certifiers to easily open scanned images and drop in the date and cert #.
2. I believe all certifiers have scanners, on intuition rather than actual knowledge. I don't see how they can do their jobs without having one. I find scanners are becoming common now. Perfectly good scanners can be had for under $80.00 Here's an example of a highly-rated scanner available now for $65.00: Budget SCanner
3. I understand that NPOs and corporations all over the world employ inexpensive systems such as Microsoft Sharepoint, Google Cloud and others to do do exactly the type of thing we do, with all the appropriate permissions, review and edit platforms, and upload capabilities you could think of. No way our system is so arcane or abstruse that such a system cannot do everything we need and more. Lots of organizations have very similar document review processes which are readily supported by such software. Here are 5 popular free systems: Free Collaboration Software
4. In any of these systems, everyone in the process can see any paperwork at any time with the appropriate access le3vel.
5. The reduced workload comes from:
  • All scanning is done at the measurer or certifier level
  • The system is programmed to autocheck input format, arithmetic, and to require a minimum data set that we require as a condition of any certification application. It does away with paper. It creates electronic copies from the ground up that require little or no filing, and that are available to any appropriate person at any time.
    6. I do not know about the volume of errors at your level, Gene. I know there are more than enough at the certifier level. This system all but eliminates most errors at the source.

    These systems are commonplace in organizations all over the world today, large and small. Organizations do not use them because they want to look good to someone or because they are "cool". They are flexible, customizable, fluid productivity tools that have long ago proven their value to society.

    All for now.
  • (Note: I wrote this before seeing the latest post from Lyman-- I still have questions about a form that offers too much auto-correction. Agree about the relative ease of scanning though.)
    Two reactions:

    1. Regarding submissions I am leery of moving this to a computer-based format. Such formats, those I have encountered anyway, have in some cases over-represented the information a measurer has gathered, and in other cases under-reported information that should be there. I think a key thing is to try to gauge how well the measurer understands and follows the whole process, and I believe I get a better feel for that when they complete the paperwork following the standard form. Of course it's great if they scan and send it in, that way I can save it without accumulating huge piles of paper.

    2. Regarding storage of maps etc: I do think in the long term it would be good to look into whether these can be stored in a variety of formats and with more latitude regarding file size. Perhaps a small group can look into that, and report their findings?

    All certifiers don't have scanners! You would be surprised by how many Certifiers have a difficult time with GIMP.

    Just today, I received a couple of Certificate/maps that the certifier though all was correct. There were at least 8 mistakes. Some could have been avoided with a web base program(drop and sparation), but wrong code for Cert number, wrong effective dates and wrong distance labeled for half marathon.

    I don't see any real advantage as to these suggestions. There still must be checks on all information. Yes, it's nice if it's correct.

    Map formats are what USATF requires. We had this discussion before, hence the map thing is a dead issue.

    From what I understand, even you are making several mistakes with your submissions to Justin. This is not to be critical, but as far as I'm concerned this is a done topic on my end.
    I hear you saying you don't want to discuss this topic, Gene. I sense some irritation. I don't completely understand how this is, but I accept it. Do you have any objection to others of us out here continuing this discussion without you?

    One of the reasons I am in favor of an on line system is - that I make mistakes - . This is part of my motivation. Some of my measurers make as many or more mistakes than I.

    Any such system does not do away with the checks and balances of our process. In fact, it enables and expedites the process.

    If certifiers cannot afford a $65.00 scanner or take a few minutes to purchase one, then I could question whether they can afford $30.00 a year membership dues. That $65.00 scanner will last many years, over which time a lot more than $65.00 will have been paid in dues. If it last 10 years, for example, that's $6.50 a year, not counting the effective discount of at least 25% those of us who itemize their taxes get.

    And, Gene, FYI: none of this is intended to or will it do anyone out of a job.
    Bob makes a very valid point regarding looking at the submitted paperwork to judge validity of the process. I would therefore modify the proposed electronic submission process to only have Application information submitted via an online form. Measurement Data sheets would be a separate scan of the actual data sheets, as there are many formats that people use, even though we have a "standard" form.

    I have one measurer that gives me Target Clicks, Click Interval, and actual length of the segment. For the second ride, he gives me actual clicks, length of segment, and variance from first measurement. Very useful in my paperwork review, but it does not follow our normal format. I'm sure others have somewhat different submissions.

    Would it make sense to only have the Application Form as a Web-based measurer submission?

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