1 Executive Summary
In this report, the issue of the lack of vacant seats in the canteens of SIT@Dover due to seat hogging is analysed, in order to propose a solution of implementing an online system to reserve seats in the canteen. The current seating system in the canteen will be explained, along with its corresponding limitations.
There will be a description of the proposed solution, which includes the technical specifications, other considerations, benefits, and limitations of the proposed solution. Illustrations will also be present to aid in depicting the proposed solution. An Alternative solution to the problem identified and its limitations will also be elaborated on for a comparison to the proposed one.
Information regarding the current situation were obtained through different means. The primary research constitutes of a survey conducted on students from SIT@Dover, and an email exchange with a member of the Division of Estate. The secondary research is information on negative health effects from skipping lunch, obtained through an online article.
2.1 Situation background
Finding seats during lunch periods is always difficult due to the common schedule of consuming lunch at the same timing, even more so if a group of people are looking to seat with each other for their meal. Sometimes seats are taken up by those who have finished their food and are loitering around, or chatting away while occupying the seats that could be used by others.
In SIT@Dover, there are two canteens where students and staff commonly have their meals before their next lesson. However, the canteens are always packed during lunch break due to the increasing population of the student body in SIT. As a result, there are very few seats available during said periods. Some students might even opt to skip out on their lunch, which could lead to negative health effects. According to Hyatt (2017), skipping lunch can lead to individuals being distracted from their work and other effects such as “drowsiness, fuzziness, and fatigue”. As such, it is crucial for SIT to address the lack of seats at the canteen during lunchtime.
According to a survey conducted, 96% of the participants consume their lunch in the canteens within SIT campus, and 98% of them will be in groups of two or more. Furthermore, 78% usually have to wait for more than 5 minutes to get a seat during lunch break. As most people finish their meals within half an hour, the turnover rates for the tables should be high, yet the students and staff still have problems finding seats during peak period. It has been observed that the cause of this issue is patrons are hogging the seats after their meals.
An email exchange with a staff member from the Division of Estate mentioned that there are plans on improving the lunch crowd at the canteen. (Refer to appendix)
There should be available seats in the two canteens of SIT@Dover for students and staff members during lunch time, removing the waiting time spent on finding a vacant seat.
2.2 Problem Statement
There is a lack of seats at the canteens during lunch period due to patrons who do not leave after consuming their meals, resulting in students and staff members to be unable to find any available seats. An online reservation system at SIT@Dover could facilitate the turnover rate of seats in the canteens, helping students and staff members to cut unnecessary time waiting for unoccupied seats.
2.3 Purpose Statement
The aim of this report is to propose to SIT department of state affairs the usage of an online booking system for the canteens. This system will allow students to reserve a seat without having to spend time waiting for one, as well as managing the lunch crowd at SIT@dover.
The process of finding a seat in the canteens of SIT@Dover is to find an available seat. If the number of seats does not accommodate the number of people within a group of patrons, then the patrons have to wait for another seat to become vacant. Upon finding a seat, students tend to leave their belongings behind, while purchasing their food at the stalls, before heading back to the seat to consume their meal.
3.1 Limitations of current implementation
The students are at the risk of having their belongings stolen when their bags are left unattended at the seats while they are purchasing their food. Another limitation is the patrons loitering after their meals, taking up the seats that could be used by others during lunch period. As there are no regulations for using the canteen facilities, people could use the seats for any purpose aside to consuming their meals.
The proposed solution is for a system to allow students and staff members to reserve a seat in advance. The reservation of seats will be independent to the current system that is implemented in the canteens, making it an optional choice for patrons to use to obtain a seat.
4.1 Technical specifications
The system will be integrated with SIT’s website, to allow for better management of the system. As students and staff members are familiar with SIT’s website, it will be more convenient for them to use the system as opposed to using an external platform to reserve the seats.
A deposit will be required to use the reservation system, which will be refunded if the users do not abuse the system. A penalty will be incurred if people do not show up after booking a seat through the system. Students and staff members need to use their matriculation or staff ID to account for their usage of the system. Upon arriving at the seats at the canteen, the user is required to scan their ID card before going for lunch.
Penalties would be imposed on users who have reserved seats but fail to show up. This is to prevent the users from abusing the system and denying others from having a seat in the canteen.
4.2 Other considerations
In order to maximise the number of seats in the reserved area, users will be assigned seats instead of giving them the choice to select their own. This will minimise the number of empty seats between users, resulting in the efficient use of the limited space. This approach would also prevent patrons from putting their bags on chairs, resulting in a wastage of seats during peak period.
At the start of the implementation, the ratio of reserved seats to free seating would be 1:4 to observe the response from the staff members and students.
4.3 Benefits of proposed solution
The benefits of implementing an online booking system would be having little to no waiting time to find seats at the canteen during lunchtime. The turnover rate of seats would be at its optimal as patrons would have to adhere to their timeslot booked. With the online booking app, the reserved seats would be able to hold the maximum number of patrons possible during lunchtime.
4.4 Limitations of proposed solution
The online booking system is limited to the tables that are reserved for the system. Thus, only 20% of the total seats in the canteen will be used for the system in its initial stage. In addition, there are still majority of seats which are not subjected to the regulations of the system. As a result, the issue of seats hogging will still be present in the regular seating plan. Scheduled maintenance and updates will be required for the reservation system, preventing users from accessing the system during such period.
An alternate solution would be to have booking stations located in the canteens that allows students to book seats in advance. This alternative would lessen the cost of having to set up an online booking system.
Students would be required to produce their matriculation card for verification and be physically present to use the machine.
5.1 Limitations of Alternative Solution
The downside to the alternative solution is that students would then have to spend unnecessary time to queue up to book the seats in advance, which makes the system counterproductive.
A maintenance team is required to ensure the smooth operations of the machine in addition to the reservation software, incurring further manpower for maintenance.
Lack of seats at SIT@Dover canteens during lunch period due to patrons not leaving after consuming their meals might affect the work performance of student and staff members as they might tend to skip lunch. Therefore, it is important to have a system in place to facilitate the turnover rate of seats in the canteens.
The proposed solution will integrate an online booking system with SIT’s website, allowing members of SIT to use the system conveniently. This will also reduce the waiting time for finding a vacant seat, which is time that could be spent on other purposes. As it an optional choice for students and staff member to use, the current seating plan will face little to no disruption. With a duration set for patrons to use the reserve seats, the turnover rate for said seats will be higher, permitting more people to have their meals in the canteens during lunch break.
Having experienced long waiting time for available seats in SIT@dover canteens during lunch. Our team decided to seek an answer to this problem, that is affecting students and staff members in the campus with means of primary and secondary research methods.
An online survey was conducted with the students of SIT@dover in aiding our team to get the statistics we need to help improve the problem at hand. An email was sent to the division of estate to determine the benefits the stakeholders were to receive if the proposed solution were to be implemented.
Negative health effects regarding skipping lunch were obtained from an online article. The findings were analysed to determine how the stakeholders were affected by students disregarding lunch.