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Case Study: Abingdon Carousel Family Registration & Attendance System
Data management, attendance records, and service usage reports for a family sessions centre
Abingdon Carousel is a charity organisation which reopened the former council-operated South Abingdon Children's Centre in 2018. It supports the community by operating play sessions, health visits, and drop-in activity groups.
Increasing centre usage in the wake of COVID-19 led the staff to seek a new software system for storing personal details and recording attendance. After a period of close consultation, Heron Web delivered a purpose-built solution during the winter of 2022.
Developed as a bespoke web application, the Family Registration & Attendance System incorporates all the data management and reporting functions required by Abingdon Carousel's staff and trustees. Some features are exclusively used by administrators, while others are accessed during sessions as families arrive.
When a new family first visits the centre, essential personal details need to be recorded. These include the names, birth dates, allergies, and medical conditions of everyone present.
A simple step-driven interface, designed to be used on a tablet, guides the session worker through collecting the data from the responsible adult in attendance. They're able to link as many people as necessary into the family, then quickly review their inputs before the details are added to the database.
Afterwards, the centre worker can immediately record the newly registered individuals as being on-site in a particular session. They're then taken back to the start of the process, ready to begin registering the next family in the queue.
When a previously registered family visits again, centre workers can record their attendance using the accelerated experience of the separate Sign In screen.
The user simply taps the session to sign into, then searches for the family members who are present. If somebody new has come along, such as a grandparent or friend, their details can be recorded simultaneously without deferring to the full Registration flow.
After submitting an attendance record, the chosen session remains selected, ready for the user to sign in the next visitor. This makes recording everyone's attendance at the start of a session as simple and convenient as possible.
The Sign In screen flags any allergy notes whenever an individual is selected. This information provides a vital warning to session workers of the risks to people in the group.
The screen also displays an alert if sensitive internal notes have been recorded against an individual, such as a referral to an external service. This prompts the operator to discretely check the notes before they start the session.
The On-Site List fulfils another of the system's fundamental roles. Should there ever be an emergency at the centre, it allows staff to see everybody who's signed in on the present day and check whether they're still in the building.
Reminding session operators of their group's allergy warnings is one of the screen's secondary functions.
The system allows administrators and trustees to download reports that enumerate centre usage over time. This information guides how the centre allocates resources to different functions.
Users can configure the timeframe for each report, then download a CSV file to analyse in other tools. The reports system is extensible to accommodate future additions to the metrics that the centre tracks.
A comprehensive administration centre is included so designated users can retrieve and manage all the data in the system. An approachable but powerful tabulated interface offers filtering, sorting, and search controls.
Users can easily access any data item in the system, such as a family member, then view related records like the dates on which that individual attended a session.
Ease of use and performance were priorities throughout the system's development. The interface is designed to be highly accessible and responsive, enabling session operators to quickly learn the app and effortlessly use it.
Visually, the design was kept bold and bright, with the focus on the information rather than the application itself. Most screens outside the admin centre are mainly used on tablets, while sessions are ongoing, so all essential features have to remain within easy reach.
From a technical perspective, security and data integrity were more important still. The system supports two-factor authentication using popular apps and incorporates a granular user permissions system. This allows each user to be allocated the minimum set of features they require. It excludes access to sensitive areas such as medical notes, until access is specifically granted.
Careful consideration was also required to ensure GDPR compliance. Although Abingdon Carousel has a legitimate need to store personal data while people are visiting the centre, this doesn't extend indefinitely after their regular attendance ceases.
The system incorporates an automated anonymisation routine that periodically scrubs data relating to dormant visitors. These are people who haven't attended the centre within a configured time period. The process ensures data isn't stored beyond the point of there being no lawful basis on which to retain it.
Abingdon Carousel's Family Registration & Attendance System is a bespoke software platform built around the organisation's specific requirements. Abingdon Carousel recognised there was no compelling off-the-shelf option for their situation, that would provide the features, ease of use, and security they sought.
Heron Web can deliver similar custom solutions for your own operations. Please contact us today if you'd like our input on your next software project.
This system is a private solution developed for Abingdon Carousel. The content of all screens shown in images in this case study has been falsified. The content is not intended to be representative of any actual Abingdon Carousel data.