How the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Uses Twilio to Coordinate Over 2,000 Athletes

Earl Nall is the technology directory of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA). Every year, they hold the high school state championships. This event brings people from all over the state of Tennessee into the city of Murfreesboro for four days. In order to keep everyone coordinated and up to date with the latest information, Earl used Cold Fusion, PHP, MySQL, and Twilio to develop three voice and SMS applications. Here’s what Earl had to say:

“At the end of every May, the TSSAA, the governing body for high school sports in Tennessee, conducts state championships for tennis, soccer, baseball, softball, and track. This four-day event brings representatives from 221 high school teams, 2,100 athletes, 150 officials, over a hundred workers, and hundreds more volunteers. This massive sporting event fills hotel rooms for a 50-mile radius.

“In conducting so many activities at so many venues, it becomes imperative that constant communication channels be established between all involved parties and attendees. We created three Twilio applications to make sure the event ran smoothly.

“1) Twilio mobile app for staff to communicate with each other. Cell phone numbers of all contacts/scorekeepers/staff at various venues were entered into a MySql database. The App allowed any user (with access rights) to send a text to any individual, venue or even everyone in the database. This meant that in the event of a weather emergency or some other significant event, everyone associated with the event could be notified. Other uses were: contact sources at a venue when a score was not reported or needed a clarification on a game result; staff at a venue to notify the proper person when they needed a resource (e.g. more tickets, parking passes); notify selected persons that traffic was bad; or for example, notify all baseball venues that a game was running late and that would affect the schedule at their venue. Because the App read data from a database, our staff could add/modify/delete contact/venue information so each use of the App would use the very latest data.

“2) Twilio scoreboard. Had 8xx number for scorekeepers at all venues to call in scores and leave in message box. Scorekeepers would call in, be prompted to select their sport, and leave scores and other details of the games (via voice). When the call was completed, the information was inserted into a database, where in turn, the staff that was updating statistics for website, Twitter, etc., had a web-interface that showed all the incoming calls, where they came from, the date/time, number and message. These were then processed by staff and data was entered into the officials score database. This allowed almost instantaneous reporting of all events. Scorekeepers called in 400+ scores.

“3) User Call-In Scoreboard: People could call in to an 8xx number and check on latest scores. The call in number was widely distributed so all fans, coaches, media, and other interested parties knew they could call in and listen to update results. When a user called, the first message they got was if there was any news (e.g. weather, venue changes). Then they got the current weather live (idea from example on Twilio.com), then they selected the sport they wanted. Once this was done, the latest scores were read from a MySQL database. Generally, more than scores were listed, Example: “Central 8, East 6 – East eliminated, Central moves to loser bracket finals”. Over 1,400 calls were made from all over the United States and some foreign countries.”

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