Co-authored by Chris Norfield (London Borough of Hounslow), Alex Zurita (London Sport) and Nishal Desai (imin).
active//choice was created to help make it easier for public and private bodies to explore the world of options when it comes to using technology to help people to be more physically active.
As part of it’s One You health and wellbeing service, the London Borough of Hounslow is committed to making it easier for residents to find, book and attend local physical activity classes.
One You Hounslow are tasked with helping people find an activity that is right for them. Whether that’s a health walk delivered by the service, activities with local community groups or sports and classes from private providers. But showcasing so many possible sessions via the website was proving difficult to keep up to date and providing a poor user experience for residents.
With pioneering local providers such as GoodGym, Our Parks and Fusion Lifestyle already publishing open opportunity data as part of the OpenActiveinitiative, it was an easy decision for Hounslow’s Public Health Strategist, Chris Norfield:
“The days of local authority websites hosting activity details inside poorly designed PDFs are over. Residents demand a better and more intuitive experience. Switching to open data opens up new opportunities for us to respond to this demand.”
Hounslow used active//choice to set out their specific requirements around the technology they needed, including the fact that it needed to integrate easily into an existing website built by a different agency.
By using active//choice, Chris and his team were able to compare activity finder solutions that could be plugged into One You Hounslow and are powered by open data to show local activity opportunities. Chris believes this is the future for the sector, and recommends other Public Health and One You teams to tap into the power of open data, OpenActive and active//choice in order to turbo charge their physical activity services for residents.
London Sport is delighted with the early success of active//choice and will continue to advocate for the role of technology in enabling and encouraging more Londoners to lead physically active lives. As well as supporting the sector through active//choice, London Sport continue to educate, advise and guide London boroughs directly through its Relationship Management Team to ensure awareness of cutting-edge digital solutions is shared, for the benefit of the wider sector.
As shown by the early success experienced by One You Hounslow, it is clear that active//choice will also serve as a pivotal platform for start-ups working on using technology and data to get people active, a key ingredient if digital is to achieve the greatest possible impact for physical activity and sport. Alex Zurita, London Sport Specialist Advisor — Technology for Participation, said:
“This will no doubt be the first of many examples where organisations across the sport sector are able to benefit from understanding the range of digital products on hand. I hope that fellow County Sport Partnerships around the country are able to use their local expertise alongside the active//choice marketplace, to encourage organisations to make informed decisions around technology that supports participation”.
imin, leading open data advocate and software provider to the leisure sector, celebrated this first partnership as a sign of things to come. Nishal Desai, co-founder at imin, said:
“We believe in an open, transparent marketplace, and work hard every day to keep it that way. Open data does lots of things, but one thing very well: it levels the playing field. Because it creates opportunities for innovation for every organisation, big or small, to get more people active, creating active//choice to complement OpenActive seemed like a natural next step for us. It makes the best choices clear”
Of the organisations involved in this work, Chris noted that:
“By relying on the combined knowledge and expertise of imin and London Sport, we knew they’d guide us to the optimal solution for our digital public health needs in Hounslow. They know the market, are unbiased and support every step of the way”.
If you’d like to get in touch to find out more about how Chris’ team went about using active//choice, please get in touch. We’ll share another piece soon talking about the technology being used and links to the product in action — watch this space!
If you’d like to learn more about the open data revolution in our sector, check out this handy video series.