Parkrun sought a quick, simple and barrier-free way to send times to its runners. aql’s SMS service proved the perfect tool for the job.
Parkrun is a community-led organisation that has a goal of making running accessible to any and all. Since its founding 19 years ago, Parkrun has established almost 800 locations and is supported by just under 400,000 volunteers. With such a large network of sites and participants, communicating running time data has to be simple and efficient.
Finding the perfect format
Parkrun needed to find a way to provide thousands of runners with their times simply and accurately. With many runners carrying their mobile phones with them on runs, using a simple medium readable on mobiles was a necessity. Due to the number of events and participants, manually sending this information was not a viable option, meaning use of a platform that allowed automation from API plugins was required.
Sending simple information reliably in volume
To accurately provide running times to its members, Parkrun provides each runner with a unique barcode registered to their mobile phone numbers. The timer begins at the same time for all participants then, as the runners cross the finish line, their unique barcode is scanned and they receive an SMS informing them of their time. For this to happen, all the race times are bulk supplied to aql’s SMS API to distribute the individual race times to the recipients’ mobile phones. aql does not only provide the running times, however. All SMS communications between the Parkrun platform and its members are done through us, including sign up and login messages.
Do more good
When aql chairman and founder Professor Adam Beaumont first heard about Parkrun from its founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt, he saw the positive impact Parkrun intended to make and wanted aql to be a part of it. In line with aql’s belief in doing not just “less bad” but also “more good”, the company offered our SMS service free of charge in exchange for sponsorship, an arrangement that’s been going on for almost two decades and provided over 50 million running times via SMS.
Paul Sinton-Hewitt (pictured), the founder of Parkrun, said “Our partnership with aql keeps uncovering new ways we can help impact people’s lives using technology. I'm excited to see where the journey will take us.”