Family-run day camp Camp Robin Hood was on an epic quest to modernize and streamline its outdated bus routing system that was coming to its end of life for transporting campers. The Brain Box team was up to the task and created a legendary custom web application that cut admin time in half and saved Camp Robin Hood more than $20,000 in associated costs.
A big logistical challenge
Located on a stunning 50-acre site in Markham, Ontario, Camp Robin Hood is one of the largest summer camps for kids in North America.
Each morning between 8 am and 8:30 am, roughly 1,000 Camp Robin Hood campers are picked up across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). After a fun-filled day at camp, they’re dropped back home between 4:30 pm and 5:15 pm.
Getting all these campers picked up and dropped off is no small feat. Camp Robin Hood’s transportation team is responsible for mapping out and managing at least 19 neighbourhood bus routes across more than 40 locations to pick up and drop off their enthusiastic campers on a tight schedule.
Archaic and slow mapping software
In the early days, the team used paper maps and hand-drawn bus routes. Eventually, they switched to a now 20-year-old system based on Microsoft MapPoint, which was discontinued in 2013.
Their Microsoft-based solution was slow, difficult to use, and had a steep learning curve. The software could only program a week out and couldn’t account for any nuances, like a camper who lived between two addresses.
Finally, the Microsoft Access downloader required for the transportation team’s data management was discontinued in 2019.
It was time for a new transportation system that could enable Camp Robin Hood to map out better, faster bus routes for its campers.
A friendly and reliable user experience
LARRY - ‘A Legendary Approach to Reliable Routing for Youth’ - gives the Transportation Team at Camp Robin Hood a faster and easier way to plan better bus routes, while ensuring that no camper gets left behind.
Brain Box Labs built an intuitive interface with tabs that enable anyone to create routes and manage People, Buses, Depots, and Changes.
A custom-built API integration
LARRY was designed to integrate directly with ‘Camp Brain’ - the application that Camp Robin Hood uses to manage its operations and store data.
Brain Box Labs opened up Camp Brain’s internal API for the first time and built a custom integration - which enabled a fast, reliable, and secure alternative to manually importing lists of campers and staff as spreadsheets.
Route planning powered by Google Maps
Brain Box Labs took advantage of Google Maps - which offers an excellent mapping interface and a set of search and navigation tools that are maintained by Google.
Campers appear as a set of coloured pins at either their home addresses, or depots (group pickup points) - spread across an interactive map of the Greater Toronto Area.
Staff can draw ‘zones’ around each cluster of campers using Google’s handy ‘polygon’ tool and assign each zone a driver and an appropriately-sized bus - with a list of campers to ensure that no one is left behind.
Any campers that are located outside the Greater Toronto Area are automatically identified and Camp Robin Hood will receive an alert that alternative provisions may be required.
Optimized routes that factor for local traffic
LARRY makes it easy to find fast, efficient routes that are optimized for local conditions.
Staff can create trips by drawing a route manually, or by optimizing an efficient route based on data from Google traffic, with options to either allow or avoid tolls - and estimated arrival and dropoff times.
Each trip can be updated at short notice - for example, if a child is sick.
Any route modifications are recorded on the ‘Changes’ tab and in each child’s profile, which helps ensure that staff are always kept in the loop.
Each route can be downloaded for its bus driver, including:
- Detailed timings.
- Turn-by-turn navigation.
- A camper attendance list.
- Any relevant notes about the route.