Since 2017, the Collaborative Scouting Project (CSP) has enabled teams around the world to benefit from a high-class scouting system. The CSP is designed to make scouting and strategy accessible to teams of all sizes without overloading individual scouts – and forming strong links between teams in the process!
At the start of each FRC season, a group of international teams start designing the new system – identifying data points to track, testing user interfaces etc. The final system consists of a data-collection app, a data-transfer system, and a database. Once the system is built, it is made available to participating teams around the world. Not all CSP teams participate in this stage of the process.
At each event, multiple teams join forces to Scout.
- Pit Scouting is done by several small groups of team members from different teams. Each group uses the app to collect information on a selection of the attending teams.
- Match Scouting is ideally done with 6 devices active each match (one per robot) with two scouts working on each device, using the app to collect information. The double-user setup drastically reduces errors
- Pre-Match reports (based on pit or match data) are made available to each team as required.
- Pick-lists are automatically generated for each team based on their individual preferences.
The CSP has to be able to operate under some special restrictions, reflecting the international reach of the project. The system must:
- Be able to function without internet access. This is a fail-safe, but also a reflection of the difficulties and expense of international teams in setting up multiple internet-connected devices at events in different countries (e.g. Australian teams at the FIRST Championships) without using Wi-Fi.
- Be able to be installed and run on access-restricted computers, such as school-issued laptops where students don’t have administration privileges.
The 2023 CSP involves three elements:
- Scouting App: Currently running on Android devices only, this app collects data locally and draws information from The Blue Alliance. Data is stored locally as a JSON file, and eventually sent to the Shared Folder. This transfer is done via internet (if available) or via scanning and manual transfer of the file via QR code.
- Shared Folder: This is a Google Drive folder that receives the JSON files from the Scouting devices. Once files are processed, they are stored in an archive folder.
- Database: An Microsoft Access Database imports the JSON files into tables. Custom queries are used to produce reports, generate pick-lists and identify errors.
Data can be made available to each team as CSV, Excel or Access as required.