Lookout local

Back in 2014, we were using excel spreadsheets to record details of property handed in and reports of lost property. We had 2 laptops, and anyone wanting to check on handed in property had to go to the one laptop and to file a lost property report had to use the other. It was causing a bottleneck, so we designed an inhouse intranet using a RaspBerry Pi for 2014.

2015 was much better, but the inability to turn the Pi off without running the risk of it crashing meant we had to develop the system further.

in 2016 we trialled new software and used an old standalone server running a LAMP webserver/database system. We set up a wifi router so any device could login and access the intranet.  The use of the local intranet meant that we could run an online database without actually having an active internet connection. We did however attach a 3g mobile modem to the system so we could send and receive emails through the system and also send text messages using the online clickatell service. This provided much needed instant contact with enquirers at the festival.

At this point, volunteers working on the service who helped at other festivals expressed an interest in developing the system for generic use

2017 was much better, we had rewritten the software in the light of experience of past use, and included a receipt printer (like the ones used at cash tills in shops) The use of the printer meant we could do away with the old handwritten backups we used to keep of each transaction.- we just filed the printed receipt instead, which gave us the necessary paper backup of all transactions.

We also hooked up a mobile phone dongle with a VodaFone PAYG sim. This set us free from the clickatell SMS interface and enabled us to not only send SMS from the system, but also to receive then and log them on the system.  We chose VodaFone as the it had the best PAYG package for unlimited texts (£10 for the month).

We had visits from other festival organisers interested in using the system, and decided to invest in more reliable and robust equipment that could be loaned out to other festivals’ lost property teams.

We started to develop the whole system as a unified package, purchasing equipment and setting it up as a bespoke system for dealing with lost property and festivals and events. We called it “Lookout” and this blog is a a record of what we did and how we did it.  If you want to construct your own, please follow along, hopefully all the info you need to set up your own system is here. Or of course you could always borrow ours!!



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