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Government

Elmhurst Park District considers alternative registration methods following fall registration glitch

The Elmhurst Park District is considering alternative registration methods after registrants for Park District fall programs again experienced long wait times Aug. 4 following a Vermont Systems Inc. software glitch.
The Elmhurst Park District is considering alternative registration methods after registrants for Park District fall programs again experienced long wait times Aug. 4 following a Vermont Systems Inc. software glitch.

ELMHURST – Registrants for Elmhurst Park District fall programs again experienced long wait times Aug. 4 following a Vermont Systems Inc. software glitch.

The Park District held fall registration at 8 a.m. Aug. 4, and by 7:59 a.m., more than 1,000 people were logged into the system, according to an Aug. 6 district website post. Within the following 20 minutes, more than 1,500 registrations had been processed, but the registration was processing too slowly and people were getting kicked out of the system and having to reenter the system because of a software glitch, Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers said Aug. 7.

"What should have taken people minutes instead took sometimes up to an hour," Rogers said.

He said district staff were planning to meet the morning of Aug. 8 with the district's Board of Commissioners' IT Committee to start to discuss solutions.

The plan includes communication with the public, which the district already had begun on social media and the website to express apologies and let the public know that they did not find the registration system's functioning acceptable, short-term actions and long-term plans, Rogers said.

The short-term actions include determining how to process registration for winter programs, he said.

"These are complex, large software systems, and it's not something that we can just switch to something new instantaneously," Rogers said.

He said those actions would include ensuring the district does not have the same amount of demand at one time, which might mean staggering registrations depending on program type or having staff internally process the registrations on a random basis instead of having customers process their own registration.

In the long term, Rogers said the district would examine other software options.

The district's registration software provider is Vermont Systems, which is a common software provider in the parks and recreation industry, according to the post. The district experienced a software glitch in the Feb. 24 registration for spring programs. This glitch occurred after seven consecutive successful registrations, and a smaller-level registration May 5 for summer programs also was successful.

Following the Feb. 24 glitch, district staff, with input from the IT Committee, decided to shift the registration software the week of June 21 from being hosted on district servers to the larger servers Vermont Systems has, with the idea the contractor could make adjustments, such as expanding server capacity during registration if needed, in order to prepare for the large fall registration.

"Despite all the District’s recent efforts, it is now readily apparent that VSI is not capable of meeting the needs of the Elmhurst community at this point in time," the post stated. "As a result, from this point forward, staff will look at a different way to process the first day of registration until we are able to identify a better solution that will meet the needs of our residents."

District staff will begin adding class sessions the week of Aug. 6 where possible to accommodate participants on wait lists, according to the post.

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