Ideas on Digital Scouting

Our team is planning to do digital scouting this year. Is there any commonly used way for digital scouting?

There are more digital solutions out there than you’ll ever need. I recommend starting with this thread (Your scouts hate scouting and your data is bad: Here's why) followed by a search on the forum.


There isn’t any sort of universal or “standard” system. A lot of teams will roll their own, and there is no requirement to publicize it. This thread compares a bunch of 2022 scouting apps/systems, plus links to some other info on scouting. A few more have come out since that post as well. Obviously, we don’t know what will be updated for 2023, but you can go with a game-agnostic program or just try them out to get a sense of what sort of features you like and practice setup.

It will help you a lot if you know more about your resources and goals. Do you have dedicated team devices or a hodge-podge of student’s personal phones? Do you have the technical skill to setup your own database or do need a plug and play solution? Will your scouts have been theorizing and practicing since kickoff or are you conscripting any warm body? What do you want the results to inform: match strategy, pick lists, both, neither? Is there a specific reason for switching to digital scouting or are you just trying to improve your outcome?

As was mentioned, I recommend starting with the problem you are tackling, figuring out what info will actually help you solve it, evaluating existing solutions or a custom one, then working on the implementation. Trying for the reverse order might seem quicker, but it’s pretty easy to get going down a wrong path that way. You might be surprised by what the best solution ends up being, possibly even paper.

Sorry for a long(er) answer to a short question, it grew a bit unexpectedly while I wasn’t looking.

There isn’t an industry standard for digital scouting. There isn’t an FRC scouting app pre-built. You either make your own or borrow another team’s. If you have a programmer interested in web development, I highly suggest tasking them with putting together a solution that uses web interfaces to store data in the cloud. There are plenty of great pre-fabbed frameworks to choose from, and there are also plenty of frameworks you can use to build your own system. Last year, after the robot was bagged, my coding project was making a Django-based (it’s a python framework for relational data) scouting app from the ground up. It kept me busy during the time between Bag Day and our first comp and it taught me why database engineers get paid so much (seriously, relational data is a migraine having a migraine while on fire).

Not to derail the topic too bad but why did your team bag your robot last year?

Eh, last-season, last-year, it all blends together because we start our pre-season meetings after the first few weeks of school starting. I mean the bag day pertaining to the most recent full competitive season.

You know you aren’t required to bag the robot anymore right?

And haven’t been required to bag since 2019

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My team this year is moving to a website that we will be hosting and developing. I would not recommend going this route unless you have a good understanding of website development. If you are going to the Lake Superior or Wisconsin regional and would like to look into our solution and possibly use it as your team scouting solution feel free to dm me.

The biggest requirement is no wifi. This means that it’s either a fully off-line solution or one that’s built on mobile technology.

Team Neutrino started out with paper scouting and then manually entering all the data into a google sheet at the end of the day. This worked really well, but was very laborious.
Then we had a student come up with and design a scout master to keep track of numbers and then they would be recorded on a paper and then entered into a spreadsheet after the match was complete.
Then in 2019 we went fully digital for quantitative scouting, using a web site that we could pull up on ipads and then take offline and use offline. Then we used a QR code to transfer all the data over to a computer with excel or google sheets using a QR/barcode scanner like the library uses. This works REALLY well.
One thing after making the app is that a lot of the game play remains similar year to year, with the exception of 2018 which was time based scoring, which allows a system to be setup and just have button names change. To this effect, I encourage you to add a data abstraction layer which allows you to map the raw data in (and do some data validation in) and then have all your visualizations map to that sheet, so you’re less prone to breaking things if you do change some of your raw inputs.
One of our off-season projects is having our new students build a better QR app, as ours was hacked together and pretty ugly.
Overall, I’d say KISS is the best method for scouting. Don’t overthink or over complicate it!

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The way you scout digitally depends on what you have access to. If you have team devices (we use Amazon Fire Tablets that we got on sale during Black Friday a couple years back), then using those is probably the way to go. If not, then you have to make sure the website/app you plan on using is able to be accessed by every scouter on their phone.

Then, you have to decide if you want to use an app or a website, and whether you want to program your own or use one developed by another team. We use Robot Scouter, which is an app developed by another team but still allows us to decide what data we want to collect. Make sure your app/website doesn’t need wifi!

After that you can figure out how to export the data from your devices to whatever you want to use for analysis. Exporting can be through bluetooth, QR codes, USBs, etc.

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In addition, you can also use school-provided devices as well. Our school gave a Chromebook to every student for some reason, so those are what we use to run our scouting and database apps. We personally like Chromebooks(really any laptop), as scouts can use the keyboard to enter data via hotkeys, while never having to look down once.

I’m assuming you know this, but clarifying for OP and others who might read this thread.

There is no rule against using WiFi. There is a rule against creating your own WiFi network. Meaning, if the venue has reliable WiFi that isn’t shut off, you’re free to use it. A platform should be built under the assumption that there may be no WiFi in the building (and you can’t spin up a hotspot to provide it), but at many events these days, that assumption proves wrong. I’ve seen teams that have the system built in utilizing WiFi it available with backup options (like QR codes, a local network with Ethernet between devices, etc.) in the event that WiFi becomes unavailable.

yes, but our team keeps a ‘bag day’ anyways becuause the presence of a dealine causes the team to work more efficiently with a higher quality.