I'm afraid not. We currently only allow our teams to accept printed barcodes. Essentially this means paper barcodes, plastic barcodes or our official wristbands.
What are the main reasons we’re not accepting digital barcodes right now:
You’re so much more than a number!
Key to stimulating human interaction is knowing someone’s name. As such we have a rule that we will only display an athlete ID in conjunction with that person’s name. We each have a number, but every one of us is so much more than that. Many digital devices do produce a good representation of the parkrun barcode, but they typically don’t have the option to include that person’s name.
What happens in an emergency?
We've pushed the parkrun community pretty hard to update their In Case of Emergency (ICE) details to provide crucial pieces of information that may enable an event team to deal with a collapsed or disorientated participant more effectively. Your emergency contact details are included on printed parkrun barcodes but unfortunately they are not available on many of the digital versions we have seen.
What we mean by that is the flow of parkrunners from crossing the finish line to having their barcodes (name and position) scanned and being released into the big wide world. At the moment this process is pretty seamless even at the bigger events which may well have in-excess of one runner per second for extended periods of time and may be scanning 500+ people every week. Stick in a load of smartphones with wet/cold screens and parkrunners with dribbly noses and big thick winter gloves and suddenly you’re adding on a few seconds per runner. Stick a five second increase per each of 500 runners at an event and you’ve added 40 minutes to the total scanning time! That’s assuming that the various technology providers get it right…
Lets not think about a popular device’s operating system updating on a Friday night and thousands of parkrunners’ barcodes becoming inaccessible.
At the moment, looking at this from a global perspective, we need something like 2,500 scanners in order to support our 750 events. Clearly cost is an important factor, particularly when planning for the future when we might need to replace them, and with every £10 per-unit cost increase equating to £25,000 overall the likelihood right now of upgrading our scanners so that they can scan more devices isn’t particularly appealing. This year we’ll start another 250 events around the world by the way.
In years to come we will most likely move away from our current system of printed barcodes, but right now our position is that we will only allow our teams to scan printed barcodes and not phones, watches or other digital devices.