An Open letter to the incoming board of Directors at Standardbred Canada:
The importance of access to data for innovation in our sport

December 13th, 2019

I’d like to personally thank each and every one of you for your dedication and willingness to take on this role. Congratulations on your election, and know that you have my trust and confidence that you will steer this vital organization in a direction that will point us towards a brighter future as a sport. Many who voted in this election likely don’t know that this is an unpaid position, and that all of you have taken on this challenge simply because you believe you can offer your leadership to better the sport that you love. I commend you for that.

I’d like to stress the importance of Standardbred Canada’s decisions in regard to section B of it’s mandate “the maintenance, preservation and dissemination of records regarding the breeding and racing of Standardbred horses.” This is a key revenue stream for the organization, so I recognize how carefully any changes will need to be considered. TrackIT has a reputation as an excellent product across North America, and I expect it will only continue to improve.

Here’s the issue: software innovation requires access to data. Our sport desperately needs digital innovation, but the world of developers is currently blocked from doing so because they cannot access and use the sport’s data. Software developers need a sandbox to play in where they can quickly and easily get set up to explore potential new products. Without this ease of access, developers will turn to other sports where the opportunity is bigger, and barriers to entry are lower. And when software developers turn away to pursue opportunities in other sports, we miss out on potential game changing innovation.

I have personally been trying for over a year now to get access to data to explore what we could build to benefit the sport. The scary part about this is that I feel that I have pretty strong connections in the sport, and have developed a high level of trust - but I am still unable to get a key to the vault that harness racing’s data is locked away in. I have been in conversation with Woodbine, Equibase, the USTA, and Standardbred Canada in this effort. The sad reality is that if I am unable to get through the access door- the vast majority of other developers who could build the next vital innovation to our sport will also be unable to do so.

I believe the most glaring evidence of this roadblock to innovation can be seen in our traditional race program. This new-fan-repelling beast we have come to accept has failed to evolve in the past 100 years. To say it bluntly- we need to throw this archaic tool in the garbage, and replace it with a new visualization of relevant data that can be understood by a generation that hasn’t grown up at the track spending the 10 years required to read and understand these things. We have better data, and we have better ways to show it off.

I encourage you to boldly consider paths that could lead to opening up access for innovation.

I encourage you to look at the partnership between Amazon and the NFL for an example of the types of things we should be looking for: https://aws.amazon.com/nextgenstats/.

Thank you all. I wish you the very best over the next three years, and I wish to offer you my full support.

Ryan Clements

Posted by Ryan Clements

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