I, too, was super happy with it!
A sneaky improvement would be to have two QR codes: one that accesses the phone number list and the website to check your team like right now, and a separate one that is only the website list.
I, too, was super happy with it!
Thanks to @AllenGregoryIV, @Aaron.Graeve, Candace and everyone else who made the first trial at TRI a success. I learned a lot and have a long list of improvements to make that I believe will get us closer to a scalable system that can be implemented at most FRC events.
At TRI, 100% of the 28 teams registered for match queuing notifications. 2,500 SMS notifications were sent throughout the event.
Post-event team survey results:
100% of respondents rated match queuing at TRI much better than typical FRC events (n=11)
100% of respondents would recommend FRC Queue be used at future FRC events (n=10)
Some fun stats:
The time spent in queue for each qualification match was 10 minutes on average per team.
This is super cool data, I am curious as to how the queue time data was collected?
Queuers check in teams when they arrive at the field & mark when each match transitions to “On field” in the app. Timestamps are recorded for every state change.
time in queue =
time match status was set to 'On field' -
time team was checked in
Finally got to use this at STEMley Cup. I not only want this for events. I NEED THIS FOR EVENTS!
I was the Lead Queuer at Tidal Tumble, which used FRC Queue.
I emailed Evan my very specific feedback, so I’ll just put the highlights here:
- This system is amazing in some many ways. I heard not one negative thing about it.
- From the Lead Queuer perspective, the notifications are nice, but the real icing on the cake is all of the tracking and additional tools. A number of years ago, I overengineered a spreadsheet (which all Lead Queuers have access to via Box) to help track teams statuses so that all queuers could share a common dashboard, build the schedule before the FMS, etc. FRC Queue does that, but so much cleaner and better. Even if events don’t have the model with notifications, I’d want to use the tool internally with queuers just for the tracking.
- Queueing for double elims for the first time was made so much easier by having live matches in front of me and not having to, again, use a Google Sheet (or–dare I say it–use a paper bracket).
- Our queuers didn’t use radios at this event (which, admittedly, we could’ve gotten away with anyways given the venue), and having all the queuers pull up the public dashboard on their phones was enough for us to only need to communicate occasionally, usually about things like meal breaks or teams that were repeat offenders of entering through the exit.
- And, of course:
I’d invest in this system for any event at which I’m a lead queuer. Once this leaves beta, everyone should push their events to implement this.
Thanks, Evan, for all your (completely volunteer) effort on this extremely elegant solution to one of those ugly problems nobody was wanted to tackle properly for so long. Also, thanks for manually editing the database and helping B-team shenanigans work well.
For those who like the system, I recommend emailing FIRST and letting them know. You’re unlikely to see it at in-season events unless they start hearing postive feedback from teams and volunteers*.
* Even then it likely would have a long road ahead of it, but it would be nice to at least start down that road.
My students got to use it yesterday at STEMley and absolutely loved it. Our drivers specifically loved that they would get a text letting them know they needed to make their way back to the pits because our next match is in 15 minutes. They sometimes need a break from the busy event, or to grab food, and it is always a challenge ensuring they’re back in time (especially when events run behind/not to the scheduled times).
When they (our students) asked me why this isn’t at every event, I explained it was in beta right now, but that if they wanted to see it at other events, they need to let people know how much they like it. I think they’ll be drafting a letter to FIRST Canada tomorrow giving feedback and asking that they strongly consider adopting FRC Queue for all events in the district.
I intend to ask the FTA at every FIRST event I am at this year (six regionals and the championships) if we ca use it at the event. I think it could be a very useful tool to support the teams and will make their event experience better.
The absolute only “issue” (if you can even call it that), was we would have liked the ability to sign-up a few extra people for SMS notifications. If we run with the assumption that unlimited “users” for notifications isn’t practical/realistic at this time, our “ideal number” would be 7-10 users receiving SMS notifications.
5 for our drive crew (2 drivers, 1 human player, 1 drive coach, 1 technician), and another 2-5 for key people in the pits.
Again though, absolutely phenomenal 1st experience with the system.
Did you consider using the Slack integration?
Didn’t know there was that option! And that would work amazing for us considering that’s already how we communicate at events anyhow. We’ll definitely look at using the Slack integration at any other events we find ourselves at where FRC Queue is in use.
I wonder how FIRST will view this with respect to YPP concerns - collecting contact information from underaged students can be dicey, and teams with strict rules within their school districts may not be able to use something like the Slack integration, as it essentially opens up their slack (and thus communications with students) to “unknown persons”.
I also wonder if there may be equity concerns for teams from underserved communities. Individuals without access to cell phones, texting and data plans that so many of us take for granted would miss out on this opportunity.
It is definitely a nice way to be able to push out the requests to queue, both for teams and queuers - i definitely see the benefits. It’ll be interesting to see how FIRST responds to it with these sots of potential concerns, though.
A good point. That being said, one way to look at this is that it frees the volunteers up a bit and allows/enables them to act more effectively for those teams, who are likely already high-contact… and that’s totally awesome in my book. Let’s make sure we are using our volunteer resources effectively.
I totally see where you’re coming from. FRC Queue has a dashboard that can be put up on a screen, which I think may help mitigate some of these concerns. I had people from every team coming to look at the TV with status updates frequently. As long as the cell phone isn’t the only way to get the info – and doesn’t provide a significant competitive advantage to the teams – I think this is okay. It’s a value add, not a replacement for queueing, and as Marshall pointed out, the enhanced tracking capabilities allow the queuers to better spend their time targeting those who haven’t arrived yet.
This is awesome and hope to see it at some events soon! Do you think it would be possible to add a feature where you could text that you need an RI or CSA and it would notify the relevant volunteers to come to your pit to inspect robot/help out on controls?
Seems like a solid system, but my main concern is that a lot of FRC venues have horrendous SMS service and I frequently go entire days without being able to receive texts or connect to data.
Both valid concerns and ones I shared (as can be seen by my posts earlier on), however as other have pointed out to me, and as I have now experienced first hand, this is not trying to take anything away from any single team, but rather add value (see Marshall’s response to Jon).
If you can’t make use of this app due to poor reception or a lack of access to cellular devices amongst your team, your experience shouldn’t be any different than it normally is. Someone at pit admin can still be announcing the matches as they near, a queuer can still come to your pit and remind you you’re going to be late (if needed), and your team can still follow along with the paper match schedule provided at events.
This app is purely aimed add to the event/queing experience (for both participants and volunteers/event staff), not replace it entirely.
I get that, and if I was in the pit with my team (Hasn’t happened since 2011, but whatever) at an event this was offered at, I’d sign myself up in a heartbeat. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be used, but rather that we (as a community) need to be aware that technology solutions like this may not be equitable at an event. In such a case, we need to know that this is recognized, and appropriate training and processes are in place to mitigate it. As a community, it’s worth talking about how that would work, and for those who are enthusiastic about it, even going so far as to drafting ideas for exactly how that work.
For example, going back to @marshall 's thought that this system could allow queuers to “act more effectively for those teams” - how do the queuers identify the teams? What does it mean to “act more effectively”, and how is that different from a queuer coming by your pit every 5 minutes to usher you to the field (something that has been complained about in the past!)?
What are the technology requirements for the volunteers with this system? Are we asking them to run it from their own personal devices, or do we want FIRST to provide devices to help run/manage it? What do we do if there’s a volunteer, like a lead queuer, that is asked to work with this and just throws up their hands and says “I don’t get it, I can’t figure out how to use it”?
I love looking for technology solutions to some of the problems we’ve seen at events, and have even implemented a few locally for inspections (while not being able to go full GMS like I would hope for, but that’s a whole other discussion).
So, in short, it’s not enough to just rave about how great the system is. If we want something like this to be broadly adopted, you need to take a hard look from the other side to say “why would someone involved not be happy with it?” As far as that goes, I think the possible YPP issues greatly outweigh any possible equity issues. The only real way I can see FIRST officially adopting a system like this is if they can ensure no student phone numbers are involved. That would likely mean integration with the FIRST Dashboard, providing a chance from there for mentors to opt-in, as opposed to the more free system that is currently in place.
I haven’t used the system and frankly haven’t looked into how it works… but every single team has a driver station laptop at the event. I’d imagine that if notifications can be sent via cell phone, they could also be sent via email (or other computer based notification). This addresses the equity concern and the YPP concern at the expense of the computer based notification having less “reach” than a cell phone notification.
Just a thought.