Monday, 2 November 2009

I did go so now it's gone!

Girlguiding has a new computer system and every unit needs to go on it. It means we'll have one centralised place for the girls' information and will make it easy when girls transfer.

I wasn't a big fan, even after being trained as a key user for my area, until the day I deleted my waiting list a couple of months ago when I overwrote the file with a much older version in error. At that point, if the information had been on the system, I could have printed off a new version; instead I had to reconstruct it using the Rainbows and a bunch of emails from parents over the past three years.

As well as adding my own girls (24) and then my waiting list (23), I also had to train exactly half the leaders in my area. I trained some a couple of weeks ago then the remaining two tonight. All done now.

I still think it has flaws - it only works in one browser, not the one I prefer to use. And when you print out an emergency contact report, you get every girl, you can't remove the girls not going on that specific trip, so you'd have to score them out.

But it also has benefits - data can be retrieved if you delete your own records *blush*, easy transfers between units and even across the country, smart report creation with medical and dietary information highlighted.

So I'm a convert...but I am glad the bulk of the work is done!


Working Mum said...

Sounds useful, but as a parent who didn't know about this I have some questions. Should parents have been informed that our children's data was to go on this system? What data is being held about our children? Who has access to the system? Or am I just being a paranoid parent?

Strictly said...

You are not being paranoid.
Answers in order:
1. When your daughter started Rainbows you should have signed a Starting Rainbows form. That included a line about her information being held on a database.
2. Name, dob, address, emergency contacts, any medical/health info you have shared with the leaders, and whether she is on a Brownie waiting list.
3. The unit data is accessed only by its key user, eg I can see my Brownie pack but not our sister Rainbow or Guide pack. The other leaders at my Brownies cannot see the data. The district commissioner (one level up from a leader) can see overall information for the district, eg that there are 100 Rainbows, 150 Brownies but cannot see individual details of girls. So on up the chain with the exception of nominated key users at Guiding HQ who can access and amend individual records.
4. You are not being paranoid. These are all questions I asked as well. The site is no more but no less secure than any other database of information. Guiders have to log in with their own registration number, a secure password and their own date of birth. You cannot leave it logged in. If anything, it is more secure having the data in one place than in thousands of Guiders cars or laptops.
The site complies with the Data Protection Act.
Any other questions, I am happy to answer them.

Working Mum said...

Thank you. My mind is put at rest. I wondered whether there was something on the form I signed, but it was so long ago I 'd forgotten. As you say, it sounds much safer than individual guiders having info on their laptops. And I did expect the guiding association to adhere to the data protection act. I like the fact that you have to log in and have to log out, and that those with access can only see certain data. Sounds just like our system at school.
Many thanks for your detailed reply.
WM x

Strictly said...

No problem - you asked very sensible questions (I would say that since my questions were very similar!) and I was happy to answer.

TopChamp said...

I don't like it. Surprised? Not liking a change that involves me re-doing all the admin for my registrations...?? Also I still have no log-on details for it so my dislike is theoretical at the moment.

Maybe if I got off the internet I'd have time for such things.

TopChamp said...

Cracked it.. there's a 'forgotten password' bit where you can retrieve it.

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