Canberra Grammar School Code Cadets Use AWS for Athletics Carnival
The Canberra Grammar School Code Cadets are a group of students with a passion for technology and applying their knowledge towards interesting projects beyond the classroom. The Code Cadets have been working with AWS technology for many years, being long-time participants in GovHack, which AWS has supported in the past – and are planning to use AWS Educate in their Year 9 and 10 elective software development courses next year.
Recently, the Code Cadets applied a combination of their knowledge and skill using AWS technology to “rebooting” the School’s Athletics Carnival.
With over 1,000 students in the Senior School, the CGS Athletics Carnival is a major event – getting all students through their events in the six-hour carnival timeframe. However, in the past, the carnival has been operating on paper-based marshalling cards – resulting in double-handling of information (linking athletes to times). Additionally, the electronic timing system, which provides results for the track races, only produced results for the scoring team – competitors never saw their results or time at the end of a race, providing them with no feedback about their performance or even their place in the race.
This year, the Code Cadets set out to make the carnival operations more efficient and spectator friendly, allowing both competitors and spectators to engage more in the carnival.
For the first stage of this project, the Code Cadets built an iPad-based track marshalling system. The iPad presented the marshallers with a list of all races along with athlete names, allowing them to quickly and efficiently marshal the right competitors into the correct lanes. The system also allowed for changes to be made in real-time, such as when a competitor needed to be substituted. This app was written in Vue.js and hosted in an S3 bucket using static website hosting, talking to an Amazon Aurora (MySQL) database via API Gateway and an AWS Lambda function to provide the serverless database query functionality. With the data hosted in the AWS Sydney Region, this made the latency extremely low, even over a cellular connection.
The second stage of the project involved writing software, which could read the marshalling data from AWS and then combine this with the times from the electronic timing gates, displaying times and competitors on a large LED screen which was hired for the event arena. Given the design decisions made in the previous stage, getting the competitor information was made easy through querying the APIs already developed. This could then be used in the C# application the Code Cadets wrote which coalesced the results from the timing gates with the athlete data from the start line, communicated through AWS.
The response to these innovations was overwhelmingly positive – with spectator engagement dramatically increasing. In previous years, there have been very few students watching the track races, as there were no results displayed at all – and given how closely athletes finish (particularly in the hotly contested 100m sprints), it is almost impossible to tell who has won the races. This year, with results immediately (as soon as the competitor crosses the finish line) appearing on a 4m x 2m LED screen, this provided immediate feedback sparking interest.
Cloud-based technology, particularly AWS and its feature-rich systems, significantly reduced the friction in developing this kind of system, taking the development time from what could have been months to merely weeks. This allowed the Code Cadets to focus on developing the software for a great user experience, without worrying about how the backend works behind the scenes.
For more information on the Code Cadets, visit: https://www.codecadets.com