AFL Case Study

Implementing a Data Capture and Storage Service for Field Officers

Capturing Data from Many Field Agents

The AFL have large resources dedicated to growing the game in NSW. Field officers go out to primary and highschools around the state, running training days and workshops. They also run intra-school competitions.

Not only are they interested in Schools, the AFL also runs out of school competitions for both children and adults. These can be full field AFL or AFL-9s competitions. They also run gala events at various community organisations and these often involve members of the two AFL teams based in the state, the Swans and the Giants.

It's not enough just to run these programs, but capturing data on participation in these programs helps determine their success and where resources need to be devoted.

But how do you capture data across 100+ field agents all over NSW/ACT?


The AFL runs programs across NSW and the ACT, involving tens of thousands of children nd adults

Our Solution: Google Sheets + BigQuery + Data Studio

Field officers need something in the cloud, something they can access on the go and something easy to use. We considered form entry and similar systems... the problem here is that there were so many data points to capture. Having a form with > 10 questions just becomes unwieldy, especially for numerical data entry.

We settled on Google sheets as the best tool for data entry in this case. It allows rows to be copied and repeated. It allows for formulas, it's easy to see at a glance a large array of data. It's just more user friendly than forms for entering in large amounts of data.

To deal with multiple users in the same sheet - Google clearly shows you when others are editing a cell. But what about Filters? Filtering your data set can really cause issues - except google has a nice solution.


Filter views allow multiple people to be filtering the same sheet - perfect in this use case!

BigQuery + Data Studio

Google BigQuery is a super fast database in the cloud. It's great, we're not here to convince you of that. But in the scenario above it fits the bill perfectly. Connecting easily to Google sheets and the rest of the google cloud platform made the whole solution work seamlessly.

From data entry (Google Sheets), to Data Storage (BigQuery), to extra reporating (Google Data Studio) - we have a full tech stack covering the various needs of the AFL. The best thing about this stack is how easy it is to program everything to work together. Data can be cleaned or made available on a schedule using Google Compute, Dataflow or Apps script. Similarly calculations can be done behind the scenes so that the actual data delivered to Data Studio is aggregated and streamlined for peak performance.

Data Studio itself is a great free dashboarding tool - that connects natively to the rest of the google stack. Its also easy to use!


Google BigQuery storing and making data available at speed through Google Cloud Platform

Did it work?

Yes - we can't share the data studio dashboards here due to privacy reasons. However we can confirm, that this system has been successfully operating for the last few years, since prior to covid with over 100 staff utilising the system.

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