Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Online signup now available

August 30, 2006

Shawnee residents need not worry about bad weather, business hours or a hectic schedule keeping them from signing up for Shawnee Parks and Recreation programs.

Since Aug. 14, the city has been running Web Trac, a new system that allows residents to register and pay for programs, rent facilities and sign up for pool passes on the Internet. And for the two weeks that the system has been up and running, city officials said they have gotten great response.

Tonya Lecuru, deputy director of parks and recreation, said the department has found few problems with the new system, and the new users have even helped make the system better.

"People have really been good with it," she said. "The first two registrations that came through, they had some questions, things we hadn't thought of and were able to change. The people have been really great with positive feedback and suggestions."

The Web Trac system is part of the city's larger effort to allow residents to do many of the things online that they would otherwise have to go to City Hall to do. The parks and recreation online system is accessible on the main page of the city's Web site,

The city started out small, using data from Shawnee residents who have rented a facility or taken a class through the city's parks and recreation department before. The city sent out about 7,000 letters about the new online system, assigning each household a computer-generated login and passcode.

"We wanted Shawnee residents to have the first chance to use it, and it also gave us the opportunity to work out the bugs," Lecuru said.

More than 30,000 names are in the system already, but only one account is set up per household. Once residents register and set up their account, they could change the login and password to make it personal to them.

People do not have to have a Shawnee address to log onto the system; some in the system are residents of surrounding cities. New users simply create a completely new account.

The first time the system is used, the user will have to update their information --home address, e-mail address, telephone number and the names and birthdates for all household members who might register in a class or use the system.

Credit card numbers will not be held in the system for security reasons, but they must be used to pay online. Receipts for the classes or programs pop up in a pdf format, and receipts are also e-mailed to the user.

For parks and recreation classes, the system will show users information about the facilities where classes are held, as well as how many people are in the class and the name of the instructor.

Users also can allow the city to e-mail them about other Parks and Recreation programs, so if someone registered for certain kind of class, they would be e-mailed about similar classes. For example, if they took an introductory aerobics class, they might get an e-mail about a new advanced aerobics class.

"It's going to help us really connect and keep people informed," Lecuru said.

Searching for classes or programs will show everything available from the day of the search through the end of the year, though not everything is online. Lecuru said the Great Grillers barbecue contest will not be online, because there are too many details to sort out for cooking teams, and judges from previous years are given preference over new judges.

Of course, those who are not Web-friendly can still register for classes and programs at the Civic Centre, but online capabilities have proven useful for many families.

"We've got people registering at two o'clock in morning," Lecuru said. "It's just whenever they think about it, whatever way is convenient for them."

The city installed the software for the system in March, and since then the recreation and IT departments have been conducting dry runs and working through security and financial issues to make sure credit card and other personal information was safe in the system.

The only big problem the city has had thus far was with a person who tried to create a new account, forgetting about a class she took in the past. This person hadn't yet received the letter from the city with her login and passcode.

The software scans the information submitted in new accounts, looking for similar information in its database. So if it matches the information to someone who has taken a class or rented a facility in the past, it will tell the user that they are already in the system. It this happens, Lecuru said a call or e-mail to the recreation department should get the problem solved.

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