Physical activity sector urged to embrace digital
Posted: Tue, 30 Apr 2019 11:55
Leaders in the sport and physical activity sector have called upon colleagues to embrace technology to make it easier for people to get active.
A ComRes survey commissioned by Sport England found that people find it twice as easy to order takeaway food online than to book a sport or fitness class.
To help the sector innovate, open their data and develop their digital offering, Sport England are awarding a further £1.5 million of National Lottery funding to the Open Data Institute (ODI).
Sport England Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth, has called on sport and physical activity providers to commit to opening their data – in the same way transport providers have done, leading to apps such as CityMapper – by the end of the year.
THE POWER OF OPEN DATA
Since November 2016, 27 organisations have opened their data, resulting in more than 170,000 sport and physical activity sessions a month being made available online.
"There is a significant prize to be won here if the sport and physical activity sector seizes the opportunity to embrace digital innovation and open up their data," he said.
"Our survey shows that at the moment there are too many barriers to entry. So, this is about giving the public the choice to find sport and physical activity in a way that meets the expectations they have in all other aspects of their lives.
"But it is also about creating the conditions for brilliant, creative start-ups and innovators across England to come up with big digital ideas and solutions that are as diverse as the needs of the public."
Our survey, of 1,815 adults living in England, showed:
- Activities such as booking a holiday, a taxi, a concert ticket or ordering a takeaway, are considered easier to access online than sport
- Almost a quarter of adults find it easy to book a holiday online and a majority say the same for ordering a takeaway (68%), while just 34% say it's easy to book sport or fitness classes online
- Consumers consider price, location, time, difficulty level and a description of the session are the top five things they want to know.
The ODI, an independent, non-profit organisation founded in 2012 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt, offers training, research and strategic advice for organisations looking to explore the possibilities of data.
Now is the time for the whole sector to collaborate to reach millions more people
Tim Hollingsworth, our Chief Executive
In November 2016 they launched OpenActive, which has now seen 27 organisations – including Greenwich Leisure Limited, British Cycling and Our Parks – publish their data, resulting in more than 170,000 physical activity sessions a month being made available online.
With consumers increasingly using online services as a regular part of their life, opening data will give consumers greater access to sport online in a way that best fits their lives.
"This is a real tipping point moment," added Tim. "Now is the time for the whole sector to collaborate to reach millions more people, remove the barriers they face and supercharge the number of people getting active in England for the health of our nation."
The £1.5 million will help the ODI to continue their work in the sport and physical activity sector, which has seen OpenActive data used by 10 startups that we mentored and are working on innovative tech solutions to help people get active.
And Minister for Sport and Civil Society, Mims Davies, is keen to see this type of work continued.
"Not being able to easily plan and book online potentially puts many people off doing more physical activity," she said.
"By opening up data we can remove barriers to taking part, make it much easier for people to get active and promote much needed digital innovation."
The world is in the midst of a new industrial revolution, fueled by the power of digital technology, data and the rapid innovation it can bring. This is transforming many industries, but the sport and physical activity sector is in danger of getting left behind.
Digital, which includes open data and digital innovation, has enormous potential to grow the sport and physical activity sector by creating more opportunities for the 16.8 million people who aren't currently active (Active Lives Adult Survey, April 2019).
However, collaborative working is needed, drawing support from everyone who is involved in the sport and physical activity sector, and through new collaborations with best-in-class partners from across sectors, in order to fully realise the opportunity that open data and digital innovation provides.
It's important that we all play our part in maintaining momentum for this agenda. No one individual or organisation can achieve this ambition on their own. So, over the coming 12 months, Sport England have committed to working alongside you to understand the opportunities you wish to realise, the challenges that lay ahead, to celebrate success and to share learnings.
Sport England, in collaboration with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, is seeking individuals to pledge their support to the shared ambition of using the power of data and digital innovation to increase the number of people who are regularly active, in order to drive improved, cross-government, societal outcomes.
You can pledge your support here