Utah Avalanche Center hopes to create avalanche app
In the world of smartphones, there’s an app for seemingly everything. And there could soon be an app for saving lives in the backcountry, as the Utah Avalanche Center is applying for a grant to create an app that would unify their website, email, SMS, and social media alerts into a neat open source platform that can be accessed and used by any avalanche center.
The grant application is called, “Saving Lives in the Mountains: a Redesigned Network for Avalanche Danger.” In the UAC’s proposal, they want to reconfigure their system of collecting and sending out avalanche condition data with a mobile application. In addition, this new system would connect the many avalanche forecast centers that are out there, while also modernizing their communications into a framework anyone can use.
So what does this mean for us backcountry users who recreate on skis, splitboards, snowshoes and sleds? If this new system goes online, the mobile distribution of snow science data by forecasters and public contributors will be rapidly sent out to our computers and smart phones, so we can get on-the-spot information concerning avalanche condition changes and emergencies.
The grant application is being submitted by the UAC’s Bruce Tremper along with WELD, a content and technology agency specializing in the outdoor industry.
Unfortunately, this much-needed project will cost money, around $300,000 worth. The grant is sought from the Knight News Challenge, which is considering other applications alongside the UAC’s. If the grant is approved, the UAC anticipates that it will take a year to complete the project and cost a total of $400,000.
The Utah Avalanche Center is also looking for input from backcountry users and computer geeks alike. They need ideas and support in order to make this a successful reality. For more information and to read the grant application in its entirety, check out http://newschallenge.tumblr.com/post/19479427368/saving-lives-in-the-mountains-a-redesigned-network-for