Having been part of the Ohio Section alpha test of ARESConnect, I have come up with a list of requests for those that have decision-making power over ARESConnect to consider. I have made these suggestions to the leadership in the Ohio Section and they appear to be uninterested in hearing feedback, so instead I am writing this open letter to the community, so hopefully improvements can be made that will make the application better in the future.
A Place to Store ICS Certificates
ARESConnect needs to be able to allow users to upload their ICS course certificates so they can be reported on by the “brass,” and retrieved easily by volunteers and local leadership when needed.
The application is not capable of being customized by local counties. For example, in our county, we track things like whether a volunteer can lift heavy objects or stand for long periods of time. ARESConnect is completely rigid and does not allow individual counties to track information that is specifically relevant to them.
ARESConnect needs better reporting capabilities. For example, it is not possible to search volunteers based on which ICS courses they have taken. This would be even more useful if customization were allowed (e.g., “who are my volunteers that are capable of lifting heavy objects?”)
When scheduling events in ARESConnect, it is not possible to assign volunteers to specific positions (e.g., “Net Control,” “Sweep,” “Water Stop 1,” etc.)
Event Signup Customizations
It is not possible to ask custom questions on an event signup. For example, if we are volunteering for a bike event, it would be useful to ask participants if they have a bike rack.
ARESConnect cannot be made to send a mass-SMS or mass phone call to volunteers for notification purposes. In Geauga County, we have a system that can do this.
In our system, we are able to run reports on specific emails we send to determine who did and did not open them.
Bad E-Mail Address Tracking
ARESConnect has no way to report on e-mail bounces so administrators can keep their list up-to-date.
ARESConnect as it stands today is, in my opinion, alpha-quality software. The user interface is clunky, the application can be difficult to use for some scenarios, some features are half-implemented. I would love to see improvements, including those I’ve enumerated above, for the good of all ARES groups.
Did I miss the mark on anything? Do you have anything to add? Please comment below!