Athletics is maybe the most global sport, being the flagship events of the Olympic games in terms of both participation and popularity. Due to this universal interest, information about these events — athletes’ bio and performance, timing, competition, venues, etc. — is considered as of great value for an international audience. Statisticians and journalists find it immensely useful.
In addition to professional athletics, amateur running competitions are increasing year after year with a direct, multi-billion impact on the markets. In this case, where business is between private corporations and runners, there is a similar competition process (registration, timing, results) but there are no common standards to represent and share the information among stakeholders. Most of these companies collect and manage information in their systems without any potential integration with external systems. Thus, open standards in the amateur running industry would enable opportunities, such as international partnerships, to enhance the services for runners (athletic history, complex reporting, social network integration, etc.) and new business models behind this trend-setting pastime.
This kind of information, published (and reused) as open data, could bring us opportunities in terms of business and new services to organizers and supporters. Most of this information is non-sensitive and extremely valuable. Companies such as ReportLab and Tilastopaja have been using athletics data to create tools and services to process and analyze the information, so all of this is already a reality.
Now, with the support of European Athletics, we launch this OpenTrack Community Group in order to evolve the technology in this sport. Within this group we will discuss standards for representing and sharing athletics information. The main objective is to define the basic schemas and vocabularies to describe the world of athletics.
As part of the final specifications we would like to produce, we will have:
- an abstract vocabulary to model athletics competitions;
- specific schemas and taxonomies ready to be used as reference;
- making it compatible with schema.org (or proposing an extension).
Hard work but good news! We won’t start from scratch. Reportlab has already defined a first approach to represent results (see a sample of results in Rio 2016 as JSON), also tools to manage this information.
If you are either a sports or open data enthusiast, join the group and take part in our discussions to create this specification that hopefully will become standard. We are defining the charter and scope of works so now it’s time to join us!