Gary Meyer, a Colorado volunteer ski patroller, won our Monaca x Onsen UI App Ninja Monthly Contest for creating a flawless hybrid app that solves real-world niche problems.
Technical innovation helps ski patrollers save lives
When a Colorado volunteer ski patroller with on-hill needs in mind created his app, he didn’t leave anything to a chance. With years of experience in software development and his passion for winter sports and noble dedication to help others, Gary Meyer created an app to ease the work of fellow Ski Patrol volunteers. Ski Patrol Mobile App was developed to ensure better safety on the slopes and help volunteers save lives and provide assistance in unfortunate situations.
Gary’s technical innovation enables ski patrollers to solve challenges with state-of-the-art features, including notifications about snow conditions, current weather and forecast, lift and trail statuses, trail checks, sweeps, logistics maps, logistics training, nicknames, mountain phones, toboggan caches, AED locations, live cams, quick-dial phone numbers, patrol directory search and calendar access, first aid tips, triage reminders, CPR guidelines, Skier Responsibility Code safety awareness, Smart Style terrain park safety awareness program, social sharing updates and much more. The app even includes a knot guide and tutorial!
Ski Patrol Mobile App covers all aspects of ski patroller work situations and is ready to guide brave volunteers in harshest mountain circumstances.
Minimalistic, yet life-saving backend technology
Gary Meyer’s app is hosted on Red Hat OpenShift, using the DreamFactory Services Platform MBaaS with MySQL. For real-time weather condition check he added specific backend services, including the MyWeather2, OpenSnow, Google elevation, and Cloudinary image management APIs. Adding the Colorado Avalanche Information Center API assures an even higher accuracy for his app. He used the Apache Tomcat app server for running custom code for the XSLT transformations, converting the resort data feeds to the industry-standard MTN.XML format and then JSON. Despite containing extremely powerful real-time information, Gary created the app with the minimal backend code possible.
Front end built entirely through Monaca
As for the Cordova plug-ins, Gary took a full advantage of various options: Camera for uploading images for accompanying social media-style posts, Geolocation for logistics training, InAppBrowser for logistics maps, Splashscreen, Barcode Scanner for QR code-based logistics training, DatePicker for the management of the patrol calendar, and the Monaca Plugin.
Ski patrol work starts at home
For that reason Gary included app features that help volunteers prepare for their day in the mountains:
- Updates — Social media-style updates to inform the patrol about what’s going on.
- Snow Conditions — Current snow report including recent snowfall, depth of base, and current conditions of the snow.
- Current Weather — Current weather conditions including temperature, windspeed, and wind direction.
- Weather Forecast — Five-day forecasts including daytime and overnight temperatures and predicted possible snow accumulations.
- Avalanche Forecast — Today’s and tomorrow’s avalanche forecast including summary and danger levels across different aspects and elevations below tree line, near tree line, and above tree line.
- Lifts — Current lift status.
- Trail Status — Current trail status.
- Live Cams — Live web cams of current on-mountain conditions.
Ski Patrol Mobile App takes care of all key phone numbers with an intuitive directory search. Patrollers can access the group calendar, as well as view and edit assignments, attendance sheets and upcoming schedules. Reference information and patrol dictionary is accessible at all times.
Instant support on the mountain
Trying to keep the app as lightweight as possible for patrollers with lower-end phones was one of the key prerequisites. Gary also leveraged local storage to support the device throughout the low coverage mountainous area, keeping the data usage as modest as possible. Within the cellular data coverage, the app would refresh every few minutes and keeps latest information available during the time without coverage. Even though the app is driven by simplicity, features fully support patrollers in all kinds of circumstances:
- Mark Location — Marking exact longitude, latitude and elevation on the mountain.
- Recent Marked Locations — Whether marked by another patroller, by the dispatcher or new technology such as a drone, accessing a map with both present location and the location of the incident saves precious minutes of first response.
- Scan QR Code — Used for on-mountain logistics training. GPS-enabled capabilities tags each key location on the mountain so there are no ambiguities about where patrollers are dispatched.
- Logistics Leader Board — Performance-based gamification of logistics training.
- Maps — Maps access and zoom.
- Trail Checks — Specific duties for each beginning-of-day trail check.
- AED Locations — Locations of all AEDs on the mountain, at the base, and in the village.
- Mountain Phones — On-mountain phones and their locations list.
- Nicknames — List of nicknames and their locations. If the longitude and latitude are known, the app will give a hint how far away you are, which direction you need to go, and how many vertical feet you are above or below the location.
- Toboggans — List of toboggan caches and their locations.
- Trail Sweeps — Checklist of specific steps to perform for each end-of-day sweep.
Crucial details save lives
Assessment reminders include mnemonics, their context, and usage. The Glasgow Coma Scale, normal pulse and respiratory rates are only a few of the useful tools that can be quickly reviewed on the phone. Patrollers can also access triage and CPR tips and guidelines (for adults, children and infants), Skier Responsibility Code’s safety points, as well as terrain park safety program’s messages.
Even though Gary created the Ski Patrol Mobile App for his own needs (and the needs of his patrol in Colorado), he hopes that more patrols will implement the app to their daily routine and ease the workload. Due to the nature of his activities, he finds spots for improvement and upgrade on a daily basis and regularly discusses new features with his patrol. He codes everything on his own, but his youngest son, Ethan Meyer, promptly supports his development as an app tester and consultant.
All of us at Monaca x Onsen UI Team were very glad to hear about this kind of implementation using our tools. Knowing that our users crave the latest technology to help improve communities around them is our key driver of motivation, and we are delighted to see such impactful results.
For more information check Gary Meyer’s Ski Patrol Mobile App website. Colorado hilltops are covered in snow and skiing season is in full swing. We’re glad to hear that today Gary is enjoying skiing with his family!
Happy Holidays everyone — have a great (and safe) celebration!