Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Electronic Brevet Card: eBrevet

eBrevet is an open-source Android/iOS app that serves as an automated brevet card providing control check-in on a randonneuring brevet or permanent. It maintains some of the "feel" of the traditional paper brevet card process. The app only needs to be activated at controls and does not require Internet data service at controls. Using the phone's clock and GPS, the app determines if you are near a control (within 500 meters). If a nearby control is open, you can record your authenticated check-in within the app. When network access happens to be available, the app will report these control check in times to the PA Rando server, which will be visible in real time on the roster page. When the event is completed successfully,  the app can automatically upload results to the PA Rando records, and generates a unique Proof of Passage Certificate that is sharable on social media.

You can find the app on both the Apple Store and the Google Play Store. Search for "eBrevet" by "CTNadovich".  Please make sure you are using the latest version of the app.  Control checkins or event downloads will not work if your app is outdated.

Detailed rider instructions for the app are available here. 

This app does not eliminate your need for a paper brevet card. 

You will still need a paper brevet card to start an event because the paper card has the start code required by eBrevet. Make sure you have the latest version of the app and the latest version of the events downloaded into the app. The most common reason a start-code isn't accepted by the app is because either the events cue sheet has changed recently and you need to download the latest event info, or the app is out of date.

Once you use the start code to start your ride with eBrevet, you can use eBrevet exclusively on the ride without needing to get merchant signatures, answer info questions, or take photos.  Just ride the bike, and when you get to a control, click the button on eBrevet to check in. Then ride on.

You also still need a paper brevet card to finish an event. At the finish, you must write your time of arrival at the finish control, and the finish code from the app onto the paper card as proof you completed the ride,  you also need to sign the card, and return the card to the organizer.  

In summary, when using eBrevet you must

  1. Obtain the start code from your paper brevet card and use it to start the app
  2. Open the app at each control and press the Check-In button
  3. After checking in at the finish, record your finish time and finish code from the app onto your paper brevet card,  sign your card,  and return the card to the organizer. 

Remember: if you are using the eBrevet app for proof of passage, at the finish of an event the following three things must be written on your paper brevet card:

  • Your finish time.
  • Your signature.
  • The FINISH CODE from the app.

If you used eBrevet and these three things are not on your brevet card, you can be disqualified.  Also, if you "forget" to check in at a control the app will always notice. You will NOT get a finish code. The app will give you a DNQ.  You must not skip any control. If you miss a control, you need to go back and check in (either with the app, or with traditional signature/receipt). If you skip controls you could be disqualified.

That is the basic plan, and we really want to stick with it. However, given that cell phones do sometimes fail, and software does sometimes have bugs, prudent riders using eBrevet also write onto their paper brevet card their time of arrival and "control check in codes"  from the app at each intermediate control  as a paper backup.  Writing down your time and these codes isn't required -- it's simply prudent. If you think your phone is about to fail, battery die, or the app is acting wonky, record all check-in codes and be ready switch to old-school brevet card control check-in processes (get merchant initials, receipts, etc...) for the remainder of the event. The RBA will not accept 'my phone died' and a blank card as proof of passage. 

Enjoy the blessings of technology in this app, but keep in mind that this is still randonneuring. Per our traditions, you as a rider must check-in at controls and must provide the required proof of passage for your ride.

Using eBrevet  is completely optional for riders at this time. And  it will remain optional for most "front country" events so long as I'm RBA.  If you want to continue to use traditional brevet card control check-in processes, you still may.

I believe the new option of eBrevet  is a fun and satisfying application of technology to our sport. I hope you enjoy it. 

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