Parks department finds efficiency in online sign-ups

From men’s flag football to dog obedience programs to youth volleyball, the city of the Abilene (TX) Parks & Recreation Department has made online registration for activities, facilities rental and memberships easier and more personalized.

The new registration system, Active Network, allows participants a chance to register 24 hours a day via mobile devices by creating an account and then engaging in a process similar to online shopping.

For example, one can add an event or membership to an online “cart,” then pay for it as one would any other online purchase, said recreation administrator Jeff White.

“It makes our staff more efficient,” White said of the new system, removing the need for a physical registration and helping recreation staff more easily coordinate and collate information.

Those interested in the recreation department’s offerings can search by program, age, date, location or time, he said. To access the registration system, go to parksandrec and select the “Sign Up” button.

Residents can register and pay for more than one program or membership at a time. Participants can add upcoming activities to a “wish list,” and the cloud-based software can send an email to remind them when registration for a particular activity becomes available.

Residents can see monthly calendars of available activities, print information from the site, or add family members to an activity or membership “at the convenience of their schedule,” White said.

The software should allow the city to provide a greater level of customer service, White said, allowing recreation and other city staff to log in remotely on tablets or other devices should there be a repair needed or to deal with an issue requiring rapid resolution.

The change is the culmination of a yearlong process, recreation staff considering a number of programs before choosing Active Network, he said.

“Not only will it do activities or programs, it will also do facilities (reservation),” he said of the software. “We wanted a lot of capability to kind of try to encompass everything we do in Parks & Recreation.”

The software also has Facebook, Twitter and other integrated methods to share information about one’s own registration or to help market a particular program.

Response from residents so far has been positive, White said.

“It’s just a couple of clicks or taps on a keyboard and it’s ready to go,” he said. – Abilene Reporter-News (Texas)