Over at my favourite ski resort blog The Lake Louise Lowdown a fantastic article on how ski resorts conduct their snow reporting.
I do the reports on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, so when I awoke at 4:30am this morning I was greeted with the happy task of letting people know what an epic day we were about to be faced with. I’m able to access the precipitation gauge at our Pika weather plot via the internet from my home, which is handy since the weather in Banff, and snowfall in particular, is rarely indicative of what’s happening in Lake Louise.
A precipitation gauge does not measure snow – rather, it collects falling snow and melts it, then measures the amount of resulting water. We can then use a formula to convert water into snow equivalency, and it is this number that represents the number you see on our snow reports for mid-mountain snowfall.
A lot of the ski resorts utilise technology such as precipitation gauges to help them understand the weather conditions. As is mentioned in the above quote from the Lowdown blog but this raw information is not available to the ski hills visitors. It’s only available as part of the summary put together by the ski hills forecaster, which is extremely valuable non the less.i
My question was so why cant we, as visitors to ski hills and parks get access to this data? It would be mighty helpful in determining whether or not to go, real-time conditions, lift prices, avalanche risk and safety etc.
We are getting there, some resorts like Kicking Horse are providing this real-time weather information, just not in a usable format such as xml or rss even. But as the Lowdown suggests these devices sit on the resorts internal network and the data is not shared potentially due to corporate policies.
Opening this data up to developers and analysts, as with other industries, would give rise to innovations we cant conceive of right now. For example, better communication of hazards and avalanche conditions. Or by knowing the wind, temperature and wind chill visitors can choose the right jacket to take or layer appropriately or whether to take the young children up or not. Or targeted marketing based upon snowfall and proximity to the ski hill. Or overlay trail maps with cameras and weather data.
And i wouldn’t stop at just weather data, some additional real-time information i would like to see:
- Accurate & consistent snowfall calculations and reporting.
- All historical weather data.
- High Definition Video streams.
- Lift status.
- Amount of lift tickets sold and pre-sold.
- Lift lines, amount of tickets being scanned in at lift stations.
Imagine, knowing that only 1000 people were at the ski hill and there’s 20cm fresh pow. Or even better, 500 pre-sold with 40cm of pow arriving and -10 degrees no wind!
From a business perspective, unsold tickets are like unsold hotel rooms. Not selling these tickets is a cost overhead. Open data would provide opportunities to reach out to audiences you never knew you had by releasing control of the data to be moulded into whatever fashion the developers can think of.
For example, lower priced tickets for less favourable days such as wind closures or -30 and higher priced tickets for more favourable days like 30cm snow etc. Or perhaps, only 250 people at 10am let’s send a communication out to our followers offering 25% off.
So what ski resort data would you like to see?