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Sport Ident Organisational Matters

Show Profile  camd Posted: 9 October 2017, 9:59 PM
Apparently there is a bug in the latest firmware version 656. It may make it appear like you have missed one or more controls when you haven't, however the record is still saved on the control box (which beeps and flashes like normal)

25 Manna just announced they downloaded every control box from the event this weekend and found this error occured twice (an error rate of roughly 1 in 70 000 punches).

For the Auckland AOS events for example, you would expect such an error to occur roughly every 12 events. Around the country the rate is probably lower than once every year. SO there is NO need to stop trusting the system - however for a big event like Nationals probably every significant MP should be investigated by downloading the box in question.

Also we used this firmware at World Masters and by this average, every second event would have had someone wrongly MP. Looking through the results, you can probably add a fast Australian who would have won an elite Oceania title to that list...

Show Profile  Dwayne Posted: 11 October 2017, 3:28 PM  
At the Oceania sprint at Carrington, there was one complaint from a 21e (not formal) that reached me about a miss punch. I did check the box in question after the event and the punch wasn't there - kind of wish it was now, so I had some evidence myself.

We have had rare unexplained SI card malfunctions in the past at sprints where some controls are just missing from the card at download time - normally an old SI5 card.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 27 November 2017, 8:45 PM  
Going thru the "check" process has been ingrained into our start procedure. Often you can't proceed past a certain point without a successful "check". What should we do about SIAC owners who don't wish to "check" (at a non air control event) since it turns the radio on in their stick? Insist, or take the view that inadequate clearing is their own problem?

Show Profile  jeffg Posted: 27 November 2017, 9:54 PM  
I think it's important to keep the CHECK process as routine, because in Air+ events the CHECK not only activates the SIAC but also provides a record of the person having started, with no record written to the control boxes from contactless punching. At non-air+ events it could well become standard to provide a box programed as SIAC-OFF, for SIAC users to punch after the CHECK to turn their cards off again before racing.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 6 June 2018, 11:42 PM  
An interesting experience with my SIAC at QB. On one day, it failed to record by waving (closely) at a small number of controls and I had to put it in the hole. It recorded by waving at the majority of the controls. The gossip around the results board (the fount of all wisdom:-)) was that those controls may have escaped the waking up process. It would be good to get confirmation of this theory, and comment on any organisational routines necessary to eliminate it. I presume that, had I not noticed the failure to record, I'd have been a DNF.

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 7 June 2018, 2:12 AM  
My experience with our club controls which are all SIAC enabled is that there is no special walking up process. Most likely they weren't SIAC enabled in my opinion. I encountered three on the first day as well and yes if you failed to notice you'd be DNFed.

There is an important issue for our rule set though. Currently if you are recorded as a mispunch there is a slim possibility that the controller could choose to review the sportident box to see if you visited the control. This isn't possible with a SIAC as it is only registered on the si box if you put the SIAC into the unit. The rules should be explicit for mixed punching events that review of the si box is not allowed to create a level playing field.

Lastly, I loved the QB events but found the control numbering a bit frustrating as there was no si number on the boxes and only cattle tags on the control stands that were not standardized. Otherwise great event. Well done.

Show Profile  Martin Posted: 8 June 2018, 1:53 AM  
The controller isn't allowed to review the sportident box to check for punches - competitor needs to have proof that they were there. I recall there being some guidance from IOF on this but don't have it to hand.

Show Profile  comatose Posted: 8 June 2018, 10:23 AM  
There should really be no instance where the controller reads the box to establish just one competitor's (mis)punch. It is up to the competitor to establish the punch is properly recorded at each control (beep and visual flash). For SIAC this is no different - if the box beacon isn't working, punch the control. If the punch also doesn't work (box faulty), clip your map in the reserved boxes.

IOF rules 2018:
20.5 A competitor with a control punch missing or unidentifiable shall be disqualified unless it can be established with certainty that the punch missing or unidentifiable is not the competitor’s fault. In this exceptional circumstance, other evidence may be used to prove that the competitor visited the control, such as evidence from control officials or cameras or read-out from the control unit. In all other circumstances, such evidence is not acceptable and the competitor must be disqualified. In the case of SportIdent, this rule means that:
• If one unit is not working, or appears not to be working, a competitor must use the backup provided and will be disqualified if no punch is recorded.
• If a competitor punches too fast and fails to receive the feedback signals, the card will not contain the punch and the competitor must be disqualified (even though the control unit may have recorded the competitor’s card number).

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 8 June 2018, 12:04 PM  
So how do we as controllers determine that it "is not the competitor’s fault." In that circumstance the controller does have the ability to check the read-out from the control unit. I know what some controllers think,that there are no circumstances, but informing competitors that all SIAC controls are active but they are not IS NOT the competitors fault. It's the organizers fault. In this case, SIAC cards will not appear on the control unit. Again not the competitors fault. I feel there is a problem with the new technology and our rules.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 8 June 2018, 1:13 PM  
The wider issue that the Sport Ident system has been shown to be at fault in a tiny proportion of cases is interesting (see above, Oct 2017). It does seem to be taking a while for the IOF to issue guidance to its controllers and for this to filter down to our own technical system. Perhaps there will be a NZ technical newsletter soon.

It may be easier to sort out the specific SIAC issue at QB. So far we only have theories and I don't even know how many people were affected and whether it was certain controls or certain runners. Was it just SIAC users with the name Michael? Has anyone encountered it at other events? If those behind the JAFA results system are reading this, what are your conclusions? What would you recommend to avoid it in future?

Show Profile  comatose Posted: 8 June 2018, 1:14 PM  
Did the SIAC card beep and flash?


Then swipe past again or punch the unit or clip your map.

I think the rules are already clear.

It's your job as a competitor to ensure you record/are recorded at each control. I agree it's not great that some boxes weren't working in beacon mode at QB when the organisers said they all would be. But just like a normal box that doesn't work during an event, the rules state the onus is on the competitor to ensure they record their presence there - clip your map, that's why all controls still have clippers on them.

Show Profile  mcroxford Posted: 8 June 2018, 2:45 PM  
Comatose, I call that the "Spray and Walk Away" approach to Controlling. It is always the competitors fault and never the organisers.

I agree too the rule is very clear.

It explicitly gives the option for the Controller to check the read-out from the control unit. Most NZ Controllers seem to avoid this part of the rule as it is human nature to avoid admitting a problem, we do it all the time as orienteers when we get lost and must actively tell ourselves to relocate.

The problem is that SIAC does not register in the control unit. Therefore, it is not a level playing field for competitors in a mixed timing system event.

The Leibnitz Convention states that we need to make the sport attractive an exciting. Kids love SIAC. It is attractive and exciting. But if there is a problem and organisers always say "it's the competitors fault" then we'll lose their interest fast.

Show Profile  comatose Posted: 8 June 2018, 4:23 PM  
Michael (Wood), I agree it would be good for the future to know what the issue was at QB. If the no-Air signal issue was experienced by everyone on a particular course with a SIAC, then evidence points to a simple lapse; that during reprogramming of 2-300 boxes to beacon mode, a few slipped through in normal mode. Did you report it to the controller at the event, so they could look into it?

If it is an intermittent-type fault like the one mentioned in Oct 17 was, then it will be less obvious what the issue is, and how to correct it, and it could cause future issues too I guess. But that is why the backup systems of punching (normal punch or clipper) are there. For perspective though, the rate of the SI box failure mentioned above was very low, and much much lower than, say, human error such as bad refereeing decisions in major football matches! I think our sport is mostly pretty fair...

We had no box/SIAC failures that we know of at Nationals. But our use of Air+/SIAC was under considerably more scrutiny than the QB events, and we were very careful to get it all right.

For the future? I would recommend all boxes are programmed carefully and checked with a SIAC prior to being put out in the field - that way an organiser/controller can be confident that they are all in the correct mode and operating as required. All boxes should be checked and synced before each use anyway, but I think this doesn't always happen despite only taking a few minutes.

Show Profile  jeffg Posted: 8 June 2018, 7:55 PM  
I think "Kids love SIAC" should read, "Kids of all ages love SIAC." If you're together enough to have your exit direction sorted there is, without getting too emotional, a real feeling of power and freedom in not breaking stride and just waving your hand over the box. I believe all the SIAC users in my immediate circle had one or more non-beacon-mode boxes on Day 1 Race 1, but had no issues with punching the box. Once you've practised the SIAC salute you're very unlikely to miss a non-signal, and the cards are really fast when you do punch the box. It should be possible to figure out if any mispunches arose from SIAC users at JAFA.
Another possibly bigger issue for controllers is being unable to interrogate boxes during a seach for a missing SIAC user.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 8 June 2018, 10:00 PM  
No my immediate thought was that it was my stick at fault again. (I've had what seemed to be premature battery failure before.) And it wasn't until later in the weekend that I became aware that others had had the same issue. I've no idea which controls were involved but I'll do that right away, in case she isn't reading this thread.

My other motivation for raising it here is to spread the knowledge among users that air punching may not work on a particular box. The fault may be in your stick or it may be in the box. If you need to punch in the hole at one control, it's still worth trying to air-punch at the next.

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