GMS is primarily a tool for volunteers at events. It uses Android tablets that communicate over WiFi to automate tasks and keep everyone up to date.
FIRST has approved its use at FRC events. It is used in the Mid Atlantic and North Carolina Districts, California and Hawaii.
GMS currently supports the following volunteer roles in FRC, FTC and FLL.
GMS does not eliminate any role.
As FIRST competitions grow in popularity, the number of teams that participate increases each year. This leads to more competition events. The old model of Regional events that lead directly to the World Championship is evolving to a more hierarchical District model. This allows local teams to compete in more events and at a lower cost. In turn, this will further encourage growth.
In the District model, events will be run autonomously by District officials. The model calls for a much larger volunteer force to staff events. There will be many rookie judges, robot inspectors and referees. Even with training, many of the new inexperienced staff will be overwhelmed by their tasks. An even bigger issue will be the lack of consistency in judging and inspection between one event and another. Though franchise standards will still apply, FIRST will have less influence on the actual organization and running of the events. There will be noticeable differences between districts, which will cause unwanted confusion and dismay among teams.
Many of the volunteer roles are challenging. Judging can be a fairly strenuous role. Experienced Judge Advisors who can manage judges to get the job done in time will be in short supply. We have seen the need for improving the Robot Inspection technique. Match Queue Manager and Pit Administration are other examples of roles that would benefit from automation and information sharing. There is a crying need to streamline many of the tasks to make them Convenient, Consistent and Controlled.
The Game Management System was developed in response to these needs. It provides specific assistance for each role at an event, i.e. Judge, Judge Advisor, Robot Inspector, Match Observer, Referee, Queue Manager, etc. By electronically sharing information between staff, each person will have the information they need to make decisions in a timely manner. The system uses commonly available mobile devices that communicate securely over WiFi. Graphics and color coding make assimilating the information intuitive and convenient.
The GMS design is based on the experience of FIRST volunteers. Security is baked into the architecture. It has been successfully field tested at FRC events during the 2014 season.
The major components of the system are shown in Figure 1 below. The Judge Advisor and Lead Robot Inspector each have a station that automates the administrative aspects of their roles. Judges and Robot Inspectors can optionally carry mobile devices (tablets or phones) to help them with their tasks. The system streamlines functions by distributing available data and sharing status information. GMS is so extensive that one needs to see it in action to truly get a sense of the integration of functionalities.
The design philosophy integrates available information to simplify volunteers' processes at an event while making team experience more consistent across events. Privacy and technology risks are addressed at the core of the design. Eliminating the need for paper improves security and information sharing.
Many other industries have developed specialized ERP tools to enhance their business processes. GMS lets FIRST to move past the 'paper chase' and adopt today’s technology to showcase how it should be done. Beyond just aligning FIRST with today’s technologies, we expect FIRST to inspire kids with innovation. We expect the students and their parents to embrace STEM, not just for STEM’s sake, but because it enables them to do more. GMS enhances communications, which allows volunteers to have more information, which in turn allows them to be more effective, which then saves time, which enables them to do more. And have fun doing it.