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AFTERBURN REPORT 2012

ENGINEERING

On the Web

The Engineering team supports the dynamic components of several community and staff facing websites. In 21012, we completed the migration of our last two forms  from a Plone platform into a hosted tool called SurveyGizmo. The forms included both Media Registration and Scholarship Ticket questionnaires. Migration of the media registration consisted of a fairly straightforward process that required only minimal content updates. The Scholarship Form upgrade also combined the form with the Low Income Application, which had previously only been available via snail-mail. This new form is the front door to what is now called the "Low Income Ticket Program" and resides in SurveyGizmo with its back-end processing handled via FileMaker. We further streamlined processes by taking advantage of FileMaker's batch emailing features, which allow administrators to send status updates to multiple applicants with just a few clicks. This had previously been an arduous process requiring the repetitive cutting and pasting of content into a mail program. Tapping into FileMaker's internal feature set required minimal resources and has created a win-win situation for all concerned!

Additional improvements for the Art Grant submission process are slated to be in place for 2014 applicants. The current PDF-based process will be transitioned to utilize an online SurveyGizmo form. This will provide grant recipients with the option of having some of their information prepopulated into some of the corresponding fields in the Art Installation Registration Form (http://forms.burningman.com). The Art Grant applications will go into FileMaker alongside the Art Installation registrations, simplifying the Art team's review process while saving valuable man-hours.

The galleries website (http://galleries.burningman.com) continues to be heavily utilized by participants and contributors. We have been actively engaged in reviewing user feedback and continuing to detail feature enhancements that will help to deliver a better user experience. Corresponding tasks include optimizing performance by migrating to a cloud-based hosting service and releasing a much-anticipated enhanced batch upload system.

Black Rock City

The release of the DMV Vehicle Registration 2.0 system delivered some notable upgrades to vehicle processing, considerably improving technical support for iPads, which are now used during final vehicle inspections at Black Rock City. Planning for 2013 includes refining the iPad interaction workflow to create a better user experience for DMV staff.

A hosted software solution called Dataflow Manager (DFM) continues to serve as our core system for the handling of logistical requests. In addition to annual refinements, we incorporated a new Early Arrivals requesting and distribution process into the DFM (http://logistics.burningman.com). This was the first time using DFM to implement this complicated process, consisting of data integration and collaboration between two vendors and numerous departmental stakeholders. The first big batches revealed some issues that required immediate troubleshooting and unfortunately led to some community confusion and impacted the staff of a few of the requesting departments. Once these distribution issues were resolved however, the system ran smoothly, meeting expectations and maintaining responsiveness to last minute changes and generation of Early Arrival passes.

The second part of the Early Arrival story took place on playa, where the scanning of the Early Arrivals was combined for the first time ever with the scanning of tickets for entry to Black Rock City. This effort required coordination between two different vendors and collaboration across several departments to ensure that the network architecture, scanning hardware, and software would be sufficient to facilitate a streamlined Gate entry and Box Office operations as thousands of participants entered Black Rock City. Finally, on playa, after much testing, configuring, fine-tuning and collaborative spirit, not to mention a whole lot of beeping, the system worked so well that the scanning at the Gate was a non-issue.

Meanwhile back at Headquarters

The implementation of Mantis (aka Burning Mantis) has delivered a streamlined method for the staff to submit issues and change requests and for Technical staff and volunteers to respond to them. Certain ticket types can now be automatically channeled directly to those who handle specific issues. Website support managers can keep abreast of issues within their sections. One particularly notable advantage is that while Mantis provides a relatively simple interface for general users to submit tickets, it conversely provides advanced options for technical administrators to track and associate issues throughout their lifecycle.

The last of our systems on the Plone platform supported our Extranet, which was the predecessor to the current UltraNet system, our collaborative online workspace. In an effort to preserve the team data archives, we used a mirroring solution to capture all available pages and files into a static HTML archive, which will remain as a reference to the original site, allowing us to retire the last of our Plone based systems.

Burning Man has a long history of collecting data from our community, however, that data is spread across a variety of specialized databases and systems. To help manage the growing number of community relationships and set the stage for our future, we are beginning the move to a central data management system. This is a slow process, as it involves careful changes in technology systems, tedious data migration projects and changes in staff culture.

The  Burning Man Project received its 501(c)3 nonprofit status in 2012, so it is starting with a clean slate and has been able to adopt new centralized, scalable, web-based tools to manage communications and fundraising needs. In this way, the Project is charting a path for the rest of the organization. The work to expand the Burning Man community is reflected in a central database where information is collected from people who opt-in to sharing about themselves. The central database is built with a customized implementation of Salesforce.com for Community Relationship Management (CRM), and supports the tracking of volunteers, donors, grants, partners, and various communications. This tool continues to be integrated with other technologies adopted by the organization.

Submitted by,
Michael Barbarino
Brian Forsyth
Heather Gallagher
Christopher Johnson
Silvia Stephenson
Ian StarrEnd of page

2011 Engineering Report