Safety and Information Services for Ski Resorts

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  • ActivityFeasibility Study
  • Closing date21 January 2013

The objective of this IAP (ARTES element 20) Feasibility Study is to assess the technical feasibility and commercial viability of space based services improving the safety and the information management of ski resorts.

Recent technological advances have opened a gap between traditional ways of providing information to skiers/snowboarders and the kind of services that could be provided. This creates opportunities: to improve safety on the slopes; to enhance the enjoyment of skiers and snowboarders; and in consequence to develop a new information business.

The safety on the slopes concerns various areas: warnings about avalanches, bad weather and other dangers; helping people to avoid getting lost; locating and tracking lost skiers or snowboarders including children; and quickly finding those who have had accidents.

Enhancing enjoyment is linked with both the kind of information that people require and how it is delivered. People would like to be informed, for example: on the queuing time at ski lifts and routes to alternative lifts; on the quality of the snow on different runs and in different resorts; on the position of their friends; and on the location and availability of services such as restaurants.

The development of new information business to ski resorts requires the investigation of various business models including business-to-business (aimed at ski resorts) and consumer (aimed directly at skiers and snowboarders) models. The size of the industry suggests a large business opportunity and significant safety benefits. There are at least 70 million skiers and snowboarders worldwide, about half of them from Europe. Roughly two-thirds are downhill skiers, whilst cross-country skiing is popular e.g. in the Nordic countries. The European industry had total annual revenues of €35Bn in 2007, with over 600 resorts in the Alps alone. An estimated 10% of participants suffer an injury at some point and this figure is growing with the increase in snowboarding and more adventurous, off-piste skiing.

Feasibility Study

The main objective of the study is to define the most effective way to integrate GNSS tagging of skiers with space and airborne EO and other data sources for the delivery of information services and applications required by the ski resort operators.

Services and applications for possible development include e.g.:

  • guidance systems for the slopes;
  • skiers/child finder;
  • live emergency warning about dangerous areas and forbidden zones;
  • location-based information services on e.g. shops, restaurants, and bars.

The core user community consists of ski area networks, ski resort operators, tourist services, safety and emergency service providers, national ski or snowboarding associations and individual skiers and snowboarders.

It is expected that space assets (Earth Observation, Satellite Navigation, Satellite Communication) are able to improve the information management services in the ski resort:

  • Satellite Navigation for tracking of skiers and geo-referencing of data from sensors on the slopes and surrounding areas.
  • Earth Observation for the provision of data on weather conditions and snow conditions, including also assessment of avalanche threat.
  • Satellite Communication, depending on the availability of terrestrial networks, to provide automated data transmission from remote sensors or to assist human operators in rescue operations.

These space capabilities need to be integrated with existing capabilities of the relevant actors to provide usable and cost efficient support.

The feasibility study has a planned duration of 12 months. The study content will include as tasks: stakeholder / user consolidation, definition of user requirements, state of the art analysis, service definition, system definition, proof of concept, viability analysis, and implementation roadmap.

For More Information

Information on the call for proposals has been published on ESA’s Electronic Mail Invitation to Tendering System, EMITS, under the reference AO 7324 (under “Open Invitations to Tender”). The applicable tender solicitation package can be downloaded by registered users under this 'Announcement of Opportunity' (AO). This specific call is open for applications until 21th January 2013. 'Entity Registration' is possible on the same website.