Web Service: A True Innovation
Tranferring raw data from third-party suppliers can often be a challenging proposition, especially when dealing with real-time data where transferal speeds are of huge importance. Speed and resilience were the driving factors when investigating and implementing a solution that fulfilled this particular brief.
Limelight Sports are a company that truly believes in embracing the creativity and innovation of its employees: there's even a quarterly awards procedure to compliment that specific belief.
Being the Technical Lead of the Tech team at Limelight, I am very often at the forefront of delivering innovative ideas, and it is something that I truly love about my job.
Over the past year, Limelight have developed a number of engaging elements for participants and spectators on event day: all of which have only been possible through the development and integration of a sophisticated Web Service.
What is it?
To the layman, the Limelight Sports Web Service is most easily described as the means by which timing data is transferred from the timing company to the event database within seconds of the participant triggering the reader.
I was fortunate enough to be part of the development and deployment of the Web Service from its very concept right through to delivery of its first application: the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon iPhone tracker app launched for the 2012 campaign.
Since that initial, and hugely successful launch, the Web Service has been deployed across multiple platforms from server laptops present poolside at the British Gas SwimBritain campaign to a cloud implementation for the Energizer Night Run.
The web service itself is a RESTful application built using Java and the Maven library to accept XML data directly from the timing company, offering immediate insertion into a MySQL database running on any server in the world.
In its simplest form, the web service can be installed on any Linux platform - whether that be an AWS installation, a remote server offering the complete LAMP stack or a single laptop running the latest version of Ubuntu.
Being able to capture and ultimately process live timing data has been a true innovation and has certainly redefined sport in the mass participation arena. It's crazy to think that in past years of Swimathon, participants had to wait up to 3 weeks to get their results.
With the Web Service in Limelight's armery, there are infinite possibilities of using the timing data for even greater interaction with both participants and spectators, not least by combining it with the power of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
For me, the Web Service is hands down the innovation of the Year as it has made so many impossibilities possible. It is also something that I am immensely proud of.