Let’s get digital

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There is a growing trend of using technology to help open up sports to a wider market, particularly at grassroots level. Mobile apps enable us to search for and book everything from sports classes and time on local pitches or courts, to attendance at events. It means that more and more sporting organisations are becoming aware of the possible benefits of operating or paying for the use of such technology.

The idea that technology can be used to get more people into sport, as well as boost revenue income for sports businesses, means that using technology in the sector will continue to grow. But what do you need to be aware of to make sure using an app won’t cause more trouble than it’s worth?

There are a number of factors to consider.

Data protection
To avoid falling foul of laws and regulations, you’ll need to figure out your data protection right from the start. You need to determine where the data you collect through your app will be stored, how it will be used, who can access it and what information will be requested.

One of the key reasons for developing this technology is that it makes collecting and sharing data simple and easy. Analytic tools also tell you when, where and how people are using the app. However, app operators should be requesting as little information as possible and compliance with the relevant legislation needs to be a primary concern.

Any organisation that collects or stores personal data must comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the applicable regulations. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) maintains a register of data controllers. You can complete a quick self-assessment on the ICO website to see if you need to register and, if you do, the annual registration fee is usually £35.

Privacy and security
Apps should also have their own privacy policy and terms and conditions of use. And it’s vital to make sure your app is secure in a world of increasing cybercrime.

Developing your app
Often organisations use third party developers to create their apps. Take care to make sure your organisation owns all the intellectual property rights in the application and retains control over key decisions, such as if open source code can be used. Developing the app is just the first stage. You need to consider how it will be maintained and continuously developed after launch.

Overall, it’s clear that the sports industry is increasingly aware of the benefits to be gained from technology. We’ve already seen it revolutionise the way people shop, bank and even eat. It seems that apps may do the same for sport, helping us become healthier and more active by placing access to sport literally at our fingertips.

If you have any queries on what this means for your club, please call our dedicated England Athletics Helpline on 0845 050 8458 or email [email protected]