Orienteering embraces new wireless techonology

Julian Dent punches the radio control.

Julian Dent punches the radio control.

Orienteering Australia has used a minor event on the eastern slopes of Mt Ainslie in Canberra to fine tune the latest technology to be introduced into orienteering, radio controls.  The technology has been used in Europe in recent years and will be used for the first time in a major competition in  Australia at the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Dubbo in July.

In the past the only way of getting information from the competition area to commentators was by having observers in the forest with two-way radios reporting the passing of competitors through a control.  This new  technology records details of the competitor and his or her progress time, and then transmits those details back to a computer at the finish.  That information can be accessed directly by commentators and streamed onto the Internet, so that people anywhere in the world can be kept informed of the progress of an orienteering race in real time.

Project manager, Bill Jones commented, “This is exciting use of global technology.  The basic electronic control recording equipment was made in Sweden and the event software was developed in Germany.  The wireless modems were made in  Tasmania and through support provided by Clear (a broadband service provider specializing in wireless technology) the results from the events in Dubbo will be streamed to a server in Sweden for the entire world to see (and hear) instantaneously.”

For commentator Jason McCrae, “This is the most significant advance in the use of technology since the introduction of an electronic control recording system in 2000 when the Orienteering World Cup was staged in  Canberra.  That gave us instant timing and control validation as competitors crossed the Finish line.  This will now give us progressive times from about three checkpoints on the courses and enable us to project likely finish times and forecast winners.  Interest builds as the clock runs down and the time for a fancied competitor to reach a radio control ticks away.  Spectators and Internet watchers start to imagine what might be happening to the competitor out in the forest.”

The Junior World Orienteering Championships will be staged in Dubbo from 8 to 13 July and thanks to this new technology instant progress times and results will be available on the Internet.

Bob Mouatt
OA President