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Stockton’s Big Challenge Active Travel Portal

Stockton’s Big Challenge Active Travel Portal – Case Study

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Summary

Stockton’s Big Challenge is a web based community competition initially funded by Stockton on Tees Borough Council, NHS Stockton on Tees, the Big Lottery and Sustrans. The aim is to build awareness of Active travel and encourage a healthier lifestyle across Stockton by encouraging people to walk or cycle to work.

Technical

Client Sustrans / Stockton Active Travel
Platforms Web, Web Services,
Technologies PHP, CSS, JQuery, Javascript, MySQL, Animation, Charting
Development Web Development, Web Reporting, Jquery Animation

Case Study

Stockton’s Big Challenge was pitched as lottery funded concept aimed at encouraging local (Stockton on Tees Borough) Employees, and Employers alike to ditch the car and cycle or walk to work, in essence embrace ‘Active Travel’ and enjoy a fitter healthier lifestyle – all through the power of competitions

Sustrans_profileThe competition premise was simple, each and every time you under took ‘Active Travel’ you logged in to the site, recorded the date, distance, time, and reason for travel. These journeys were then logged and your cumulative total displayed in terms of miles travelled, calories used, kg of fat burnt, kg of CO2 saved, and Parmo’s!

For those not local to Teesside the Parmo is a regional delicacy of note (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parmo) which through it’s ingredients of cheese, béchamel sauce, and being deep fried has a ridiculously high calorie count!

The Parmo Calculator was the welcomed challenge in the development as the concept was that we would allow site users to visualise their journey in terms of Parmo’s dropping to a plate, the shock factor being the tiny fraction of a Parmo that most journey’s equated to. We also made the calculator available as a stand alone tool that visitors could play with and drum up publicity. It worked, gaining the challenge and dotUK local coverage in local press, radio interviews, and even linked to and referenced by the Wikipedia article above.

The competition itself was broken down to allow businesses of different sizes to also compete by entering teams of employees (the cumulative score of their employees being totalled), as well as the individual completion. All user journeys, their ‘Parmo Counts’ and a dynamically generated report of miles walked / cycled over time was available in the individual users portfolios.

From an administration point of view, all aspect of the system were run form a secure web based control panel, this covers both user management, flagging ‘suspect’ journey logs, content management, and competition and winner management. The competitions were designed to be run time and time again between specific date ranges so we built tools that allow new competitions to be defined and journeys automatically entered between the relevant dates. Some winners prizes were also drawn at random so we created tools that allowed winners to be picker honestly.

When a competition is active the real-time statistics are published to both a widget on the home page and also to a dedicated live results page showing the scoreboard in terms of individuals and employers in the region. To further motivate year on year competition the historical archives of past competition results are permanently available and automatically generated.

Wrapped around the competition element of the site is the content management system. Near all content on the site it controlled through our own build web based content management system. Each page on the front end consists of one or more content blocks and the output content of those blocks is created by the administrator using the WYSIWG (What You See Is What You Get) editor.Parmo Calculator

This means that the administrator does not need to know, or have any real understanding of HTML or web scripting languages, they can simply type as if it were a regular word processor and format text style, colour, size and alignment with ease. In addition we created a web based media manager which allowed the simple upload of images to be embedded in the content thus allowing for the simple creation of visually rich, engaging content for their community.

Content wise these tools allowed them to manage 20+ pages of unique content instantly on demand, and engaging users beyond the competition. Content included local events, Bike maintenance tips, links to local resources and cycle path maps, the Sustrans Cycle network journey planner and much, much more.

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