GAA unveils hi-tech system for keeping members up to date

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m-for-keeping-members-up-to-date-1578831.html   

By Donnchadh Boyle

Thursday December 18 2008

THE GAA has unveiled an ambitious new project designed to streamline the communications process at every level of the association.

After almost three years of planning, research and consultation, a partnership with technology giant Google was announced yesterday which will see the information flow throughout the GAA become more focused and relevant to the individual.

The three-phase programme, which coincides with the 125th anniversary of the association, will be rolled out as part of the Strategic Vision and Action plan and is aimed at encouraging greater communication across the board.

Among the features is an individual e-mail address for each and every member of the association where they will be able to access a host of information including their club’s fixtures and results for that season at the click of a mouse.

User-friendly

The GAA’s website will also be updated and become more user-friendly while there will also be an intranet that will allow specific levels within the GAA to communicate directly with each other, as Aoghan Farrell, chairman of Croke Park’s IT committee explained.

"This has been a three-year project," said the Cavan native.

"Our market research showed us that a lot of units communicate with its members in the same way.

"So for example, all the members of a trade union receive the same newsletter they may be only mildly interested in whereas we wanted each member to access information that is specific to them.

"So for example, as a member of any club you can log into your e-mail and look at your calendar of games and it will tell you exactly when you are due to play.

"This information will be uploaded by the relevant county board and will be accessible to any member of that club.

"It will also streamline the whole process so if Croke Park wants to send something that is specific to county chairmen — or any other level for that matter — it can, rather than having to go through the secretary first as would have been the norm.

"There is also information that does not necessarily need to be made publicly available but that needs to get to certain levels.

"It cuts down the workload and ensures the people who get the message are the people that it is intended for."

An in-built text alert service will also be part of the package where clubs can send messages to its members.

A large number of clubs throughout the country already employ a similar system but, according to Farrell, this will be the cheapest option available to units as the GAA were able to negotiate a price of less than three cent per text.

The text alerts are the only part of the new system that clubs will be asked to pay for (should they decide to use it) as the rest of bill for the project will be picked up by HQ.

In another development, disciplinary information on individuals will also be centralised, allowing councils to view a member’s history at each level of the game.

The move should cut out a significant amount of paperwork and make sure the player receives a fairer hearing in light of his or her record.

Croke Park will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the system with Google providing technological back-up.

"That Google are involved gives the project real credit," Farrell enthused.

"They are world leaders in this area. That an amateur organisation can get involved with them is unheard of.

"Indeed, there are many professional organisations that would like to have them on board. And remember, they are a worldwide body and we have units across the world too who will also really benefit from this."

The IT committee has a number of in-house trainers who will provide workshops to help units adapt to the new system, though Farrell was keen to stress the system was extremely easy to use and would benefit the association in the short, medium and long term.

"We are delighted to be working with Google," said GAA president Nickey Brennan. "This relationship ensures that the GAA can now utilise world-class technologies to enable enhanced communications and sharing of information between individuals, our units at all levels plus the general public."

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