The Database team maintains all databases that support daily operations and help the Burning Man Project happen each year. Additionally, some assistance is provided to support the Black Rock Arts Foundation.

During the early months of 2007, the Database Team focused on the automation of data imports and exports from the various FileMaker databases in use by the Burning Man organization. Many of the data feeds that had been manually imported in previous years are now automatically imported using Python scripts. The Database Team also worked closely with the Tech Team to get the various questionnaires connected to their respective FileMaker databases.

In May of 2007, a technical project manager was brought in to assist in managing the FileMaker Database administration and engineering tasks. They worked at improving:

  • Communication with Burning Man staff
  • Documenting processes to create realistic schedules and track progress
  • Task prioritization
  • Streamlining service requests, follow through and tracking details

Implementation of the above enabled the Database Administrator to focus on technical tasks with fewer administrative distractions. There is room for improvement in several areas, especially status updates and communication.

We worked on our yearly mailing list exports for the Decompression postcard, Burning Man ticket mailer, Survival Guide, and summer newsletter. In addition to these regular Database tasks, we implemented the following, which resulted in time gained by Burning Man staff:

  • Automation of data extraction for camp information to be used
    in the Digital Directories at Playa Info
  • BRAF donation option given with ticket purchases
  • Creation of a new Will Call Database for the Special Events team
    for Decompression and other year-round events

We continue to experience challenges with finding time to work on new development projects while maintaining existing systems. We will streamline processes and adjust resources next year to improve this.

There were problems with data integrity in the Placement database. There were many duplicate entries in the Contact and Sales database, which resulted in extra man-hours being spent to remedy the data. Both of these are high on our list to change in the upcoming year.

Submitted by
David Brenneman, Database Administrator
Ian Starr (bliss), Project Manager