Avalanche risk assessment: from a cardboard disc to a mobile app
To diversify the activities and income streams of the Sion-based SME Meteorisk by turning its avalanche risk assessment tool into a mobile app.
Meteorisk was formed in 1999 by snow expert Robert Bolognesi. Based in Sion, the company has a staff of about ten people. It specialises in everything snow-related, providing engineering services and consultancy and producing books as well as software packages, the latter being used by ski-lift operators in particular.
Around fifteen years ago, Meteorisk launched the NivoTest tool. This system, which takes the form of a cardboard disc, similar to a parking disc, enables users to determine the risk of an avalanche on the basis of a series of questions. This tool provides real-time decision support to anyone who enjoys freeriding or mountain hikes. NivoTest is based not only on statistical analysis of several thousand incidents, but also on Robert Bolognesi's own experience over more than 30 years. Tens of thousands of units have already been sold, making this tool a standard item in the world of mountain sports.
Digitisation via a mobile app
Everything is becoming digital and more portable in today's society, so Meteorisk wanted to create a mobile app based on the paper version of NivoTest. A project by The Ark Foundation enabled the company to develop this new platform, thanks to work by the Icare Institute at Sierre.
Launched in January 2016 and sold for CHF 5, the app has already been downloaded several hundred times during the winter. Developments to make this digital tool more attractive and improve its functions are planned for 2016. A book giving a detailed explanation of NivoTest and its method of analysis is also available.
Complementary relationship between research and business
Beside the actual launch of the app, this project was above all an opportunity for the director of Meteorisk to ensure that his knowledge was not lost, and was shared with as many people as possible. It was also an opportunity for the SME to diversify its activities and sources of income.
In addition to these commercial aspects, the project (which received funding from The Ark Foundation in particular) highlighted the complementary relationship between the world of research (Icare) and business (Meteorisk), from a business development perspective.