East Riding of Yorkshire Council has developed its own application to let local residents book its leisure facilities after finding that software suppliers could not supply an application with the functionality required.
The district council employed three developers full-time over two and a half years to develop the .net Framework application using Prince2 methodologies.
The Booking Events and Resource System (Bears) application has been regarded as such a success by neighbouring councils that one of them has signed a deal for East Riding to provide the application as a managed service.
An East Riding spokesman said, “We went to the market to establish indicative costs for the implementation of a multifunctional events, activities and bookings system to meet the needs of all partners.
“Unfortunately, at that time no supplier could offer the complexity required. Therefore, East Riding embarked on the ambitious programme of developing a solution in-house.”
Council officers are hoping to see the number of bookings for council-run leisure facilities triple within 12 months of Bears going live. They also expect that bookings for its facilities will then double again over the subsequent 12 months.
East Riding plans to build a radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging system for some of the bulky but portable items of equipment in use at its leisure centres, and it wants to integrate this RFID platform with Bears.
Smartcards are also planned for the leisure centres. Customers will be given the cards, which they can use at self-service terminals.
The council sees the combination of smartcards and self-service terminals as a means of reducing the time that customers spend waiting to book facilities.
It will also free up leisure centre employees to spend more time on coaching customers. Alternatively, the council may be able to employ fewer staff.
The next council officers to use Bears will be East Riding’s registrars. People living in the East Riding will soon be able to book birth, naming, wedding and death ceremonies online.
The local primary care trust is already using Bears to book patients onto exercise programmes as part of efforts to improve their fitness. The project, called the exercise referral programme, is currently in use by local GPs.
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