Introduction to findability
In this section we’ll introduce you to findability and address the common questions people ask around open data.
Findability is a term used to refer to the ease with which information can be found, and in a sport and physical activity context, findability refers to how easy it is for people to find information on a website about opportunities to be physically active. Findability is a key factor that influences the user experience – no one wants to spend a long time searching for information they are looking for.
Open data aims to tackle this problem by improving the findability of sport and physical activity information; this could include information about facilities and/or opportunities to be active.
Open data is data that is available for anyone to access, use, and share.
Open data is data that is available for anyone to access, use and share. If you’ve used Google Maps or Citymapper the information about bus and train times is open data provided by the transport companies. It is even used to tackle crime through services like BikeChecker.
OpenActive is the open data standard for the sport and physical activity sector.
We know that a lack of access to high-quality open data in the sport and physical activity sector is a barrier to getting people active, and OpenActive helps to address this. OpenActive helps to tackle the problem of inactivity by helping sport and physical activity providers publish standardised open data on physical activity making it easier for people to find and book these opportunities online.
OpenActive believe that open data can be used to help more people get active, by:
Improving the users’ experience
By publishing quality open data, activity providers will make it easier for websites and apps to display opportunity information that people can act on, enabling people to easily find and book activities to help increase participation.
Creating innovation in the sector
Open data is driving a new wave of innovative apps, websites and products. By publishing data openly, activity providers and national bodies can help stimulate new ideas and ways for getting people active.
Benefiting activity providers
The more data about activities is openly available, the more people are likely to find out about and attend those activities. Open data can also improve efficiency for activity providers as they can avoid repeat data collection.
To learn more about OpenActive, please click here.
A data standard is a set of rules or agreements that defines what data is collected, and how it is structured, used and managed.
In relation to sport and physical activity session data, OpenActive created and manage the data standard. This refers to the session information requested under the OpenActive data standard / submitted by activity providers, including things like; organisation name, activity type (i.e. football, yoga, swimming), session description, contact name, session contact email, location, accessibility information etc.
We know that many people are searching online for ways to be active locally. There is also a growing workforce of social prescribers who are looking for suitable opportunities to help their patients become active.
Unfortunately, many smaller sport and activity providers still have a limited or zero online presence – which means they are hard to find. Many sport and activity providers will have some leaflets printed, a mention in a local authority magazine or a phone number to call, but very few have up to date information about what sessions are running, and/or an easy way for people to book on to those sessions.
By publishing activity session information in a standardised open data format – activity providers and commissioners can get their session information onto the activity finders, apps and services that people are using to find ways to be active.
By uploading session information, activity providers are helping Londoners discover and participate in activities, promoting a healthier and more active community. The sessions get uploaded to various activity finders, such as Get Active, where residents can search by location and book onto sessions.
Open Sessions is a free tool enabling sport and physical activity providers (clubs, sports facilities and other providers) to publish their activity information and become open data compliant.
By using Open Sessions it enables providers to publish their activity information in a standardised format, which can then be fed into websites and apps that show available activities. These websites and apps include the likes of Get Active – people can input their postcode, search and book activities taking place near them.
To publish your session information now, simply visit our dedicated portal and follow the step-by-step instructions. You will need to create an account and provide essential details about your session(s).
Click here to find out more about Open Sessions, and how you can publish your activity data.
A handful of benefits include free marketing and increased visibility for your activity, cost savings, greater online engagement and improved discoverability. Click here to read more and find out about the benefits of open data.
In the same way you can probably find your local takeaway on Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats, there are more and more places you can search for and find local sport and physical activity sessions.
Many local authorities and active partnerships have activity finders which enable their residents to search for all activities in their local area.
Get Active is London Sport’s activity finder; making it easy for people to find free and low-cost ways to be active across London.
Other examples include:
- Find Your Active – Active Essex
- Moving More – Herts Sports Partnership
- Active Thames (Port of London Authority)
Meanwhile other activity finders help people find activities around a particular activity type, topic or interest. Examples include:
By publishing activity data, your sessions will be displayed across lots of activity finders it makes it more likely that they’ll be found.
OpenActive data from February 2022 shows over 600,000 sessions are published monthly by almost 70 organisations. In 2019, an external impact assessment of the OpenActive data standards estimated that the standards could help avoid up to 110 premature deaths per year, save up to £3 million per year in health costs and generate up to a £20 million per year increase in productivity.
Individual organisations also benefit from the increased access to data. In 2020, one case study found that leisure operator Everyone Active – which provides physical activities like gym classes and swimming lessons – gained almost 11,500 customers at its facilities (36% of whom had never used an Everyone Active service before) from its partnership with a data aggregator.
Using open data about outdoor activities also helped Ordnance Survey meet the needs of a wider group of people as part of their Get Outside campaign.
OpenActive helps activity providers to publish information on the activities they provide in a standardised format, which can then be fed into other websites and apps that show available activities.
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