Alpe d’HuZes – safe cycling for a good cause
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During the yearly event of Alpe d’HuZes, thousands of people run, hike or cycle up the mountain Alpe d’Hues in France – all for a good cause. “Giving up is no option,” is the motto under which Alpe d’Huzes raises money for the fight against cancer. About 5,400 participants and another 3,000 volunteers joined the event in 2016. Freddy van Geel is an account manager at a software company in Amsterdam and one of the volunteers at Alpe d’HuZes. He initiated the development of an event management system that ensures the safety of all participants of the tour.
Freddy van Geel, a father of four children, feels a strong drive to contribute to society. In addition to working the Alpe d’Huzes, he also volunteers at his local police station.
“By supporting the police, I contribute to the safety of society. And with my activities at Alpe d’HuZes, I’m able to use my software knowledge to ensure the security of all visitors and participants of the event.”
A colleague invited Freddy to join the security team of the event, which is responsible for the control room. The control room coordinates with local police and hospital personnel to handle emergencies during the event. Freddy and another volunteer support this professional team by managing less urgent events.
“During the tour, we register every happening. It’s our responsibility to coordinate the safety of a couple of thousand people. We take this very seriously. That’s why a well-functioning system is essential.”
The need for a specialized system
Last year Freddy developed an event management software himself.
“With little experience in IT, and a lot of support from Google, I was able to put something together. It was a Band-Aid solution, but it worked for the time being,” Freddy tells us. “People were satisfied with this system, but I wasn’t yet. I knew that more functionalities were possible and that it could be developed more professionally. I reached out to software development companies, asking for support to build a system for us.”
Rob Schilperoort, CEO of WEM, replied immediately. He wanted to develop the required application with WEM, pro bono, and sponsor Alpe d’HuZes. Freddy and Rob collaborated on building the application.
“I specified what we wished for and showed Rob what I had previously built. He indicated that it would be simple to build such a system in WEM. However, an event management system is very complex. That’s why I was skeptical about the simplicity of building the application. Think about all the information that needs to be registered, such as the event reporter, location, situation, priority, necessary actions to take, etc. Subsequently, status updates need to be logged, for example when an event is completed, by whom and how.”
A system that works 150%
“Rob and I set up a meeting. While he was waiting for me to arrive, Rob had already created a first, but fully functioning, design of the application with WEM. That was a great way to start.”
The two men discussed how the application should be further developed, and Rob brought the application to 80 percent of its desired functioning.
“I continued modeling the application myself and brought it to 100 percent of what we anticipated,” says Freddy. “While working in WEM, I discovered that the system allows many more functionalities. I was able to enhance the application and add new functionalities. Now, we are working with an event management system that works 150 percent.”
Freddy laughs. The application was built within three months, a speed which astonished Freddy, considering that he and Rob only worked on the application during their free time.
“The biggest part of the work is thinking about and discussing functionalities that furthermore enhance the application. Developing it was done quickly. I’m not a professional developer-- that’s why it was even more unique that I developed it myself. Not by coding, but by modelling visual flowcharts. It was easy to use and it’s simple to adjust. I worked with WEM without any training. I have used tutorials, and every now and then I asked Rob for some hints and tips. But generally it was very easy to use, so I figured it out myself very quickly.”
From paperwork to an efficient system
“This system became an essential part of our work and we don’t want to work without it, anymore,” Freddy says. In the past the organization had to work without management software. “We processed everything in Excel. Before that, we even used paper forms. Imagine the work and chaos that came along with it.”
Every year Alpe d’HuZes becomes a bigger event, and the number of incident reports increases with it. Last year, the control room had to manage 900 reports a day.
“If we would have had to process that amount manually, we would need an enormous team,” Freddy says with a laugh. The control room team was pleased with the system that Freddy built on his own. However, they are even more excited about the new WEM-built application.
“Even the professional police control room workers are amazed by the functionalities of the system. They might even be jealous, because their professional systems do not work as well and as efficiently as ours does.”
That’s why the event management system that Freddy and Rob built together is now available as a solution template for other organizations.
Ready for the big event
Freddy is already preparing the next update of his system: a dashboard.
“We’ll be able to monitor our statistics. For example, at what time, which person or at what location most incidents happen. We’ll use this information for future events. “
Freddy says of his experience with WEM: “We started with a “scooter” and are now using a “solid Jeep.” I have many ideas and we’ll receive feedback after having used the system at the event. That means users can expect that we’ll upgrade from a “solid Jeep” to a “Tesla” next year! I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished in such a short time. Now I’m even more excited for Alpe d’HuZes to start!”