Swimming is the most popular participation activity in the UK, with at least 20 million people in England swimming each year. Added to this, 12% of the UK adult population say they would like to swim more often. Despite these figures, pool facilities and swimming opportunities remain poorly marketed. Splashpath aims to address this latent demand through the provision of an innovative new marketing strategy that communicates swimming opportunities via new information technology.
Information technology has played a central role in the growth and improvement of the travel and tourism industry. The lasting effects of technology are improved information accessibility, a higher level of competition, and a larger market of consumers and businesses around the globe. Unlike the travel and tourism industry, the UK fitness industry is unable to use information technology to its fullest extent to enhance marketing, operations, bookings and billings. Leisure Operators have all focused on creating bespoke individual IT systems that lack the ability to offer inter-organizational exercise program listings for added customer convenience and market visibility. Unless this information can become more visible, the potential for the ‘contemplation of physical activity’, which, the NHS Go London strategy concludes is one the most relevant factors to catalyze a significant shift into activity, is greatly reduced.
Working in partnership with UK Leisure Operators and local councils, we have spent the last 12 months building a central system for managing swimming pool session times.
With the assistance of the ASA (the national governing body for aquatics) we already have some of the largest Leisure Operators using our system, one of who, GLL, currently manage the majority of London’s public leisure centers.
With our software for managing pool timetables complete, we see this competition as a fantastic opportunity to develop two areas of Splashpath that will provide long-term benefits, initially to Londoners and with the wider-reaching potential to benefit the broader UK population.
First, we need to maximize the potential of the technology we have created, with an initial focus on engaging all London public swimming facilities to use a common format to display swimming pool session times. To do this we need additional short-term resources to manage and train London Leisure Operators in the Splashpath system.
More than most lifestyles, living in London puts a great strain on an individual’s time. It is common to become preoccupied with work, absorbed in an active social life or exhausted by a long commute. ‘Making the time’ to keep active and healthy is always difficult. Our solution flips the scenario, making the times meet the needs of the person rather than the other way round.
How do we do this? By effectively communicating the availability of the exercise times entered into the Splashpath system to the individual (initially swimming pool times) based on their location and circumstance.
With the help of this competition, we will utilize our Splashpath data to create the following tools to empower public institutions, organizations and individuals to easily highlight where swimming facilities exist and when specific swimming sessions take place:
a) A simple step-by-step website to generate printable pool timetables. You can choose to limit these timetables by location and activity. The timetables will source swimming session information from across Operators and Leisure Centers.
- A GP Surgery or Library prints out timetables that highlight the Swim4Life free swimming sessions for under 16’s and over 60’s in any leisure center within a 2-mile vicinity. These timetables are placed as A4 handouts on reception and a larger poster on notice boards.
- Nurseries can print and display the closest Mum and Baby swimming sessions.
- Primary Schools can display the nearest Free Swimming Lessons available.
- Organisations can display timetables aimed at particular disability groups.
- A timetable for an individual person can be generated. For example, Dan only wants to see Adult Lane Swimming Sessions in the Oasis Leisure Centre (where he works) and Ironmonger Row Baths (where he lives).
- GP’s could prescribe a personalized swimming timetable to an individual based on lifestyle and ability. This could be a great compliment to the exercise-on-prescription scheme, helping to relieve the £105 million pound burden that inactivity costs the NHS every year. Highlighting specific session times at a number of convenient lesiure centers might just be the extra step needed to get that person active.
b) The same as above but in a digital format that can be embedded in any website (Facebook, Myspace, Local Council, Club/Organisations etc.)
Mum and Baby
(askamum.co.uk has no affiliation with Splashpath – image is for demonstration purposes only)
(Facebook has no affiliation with Splashpath – image is for demonstration purposes only)
Or even the Change4Life website
(Change4Life has no affiliation with Splashpath – image is for demonstration purposes only)
c) A flexible data format to export the above information. This could open up many more opportunities such as the displaying of relevant swimming pool locations and session times on public screens, smart-phones, SMS, library and school computer screen-savers, local newspapers and gas bills. This would be an investment in an information network that could benefit future NHS Get Active Strategy.
Example of Splashpath times on an iPhone
We already have the infrastructure to design and deliver this technology. We currently have the most up-to-date database of swimming facilities in the UK, furthering the potential for this technology to be rolled out nationwide to increase active healthy living up-to, and beyond the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games. There are many fun and engaging social elements to Splashpath currently in the pipeline, but right now, when there is clearly such a lack of easy-to-access public exercise information, we are sticking to our philosophy that useful is more important than innovative. Cool wears off, useful doesn’t.
This post was submitted by Daniel Morgan.