Live reports show snow grooming in real time

Story by Duane Fizor – Information Content Coordinator for Alberta Parks in Kananaskis Country

Remember when the Alberta Parks Cross-Country Ski Trail reports were faxed out once per week? This was they way much of the information was sent – as few as 10 years ago. It’s hard to believe that now, thanks to Alberta Parks employees, “Live Grooming Reports” can send updates sent to your email as the snow is being groomed.

In 2012 an early version of the new system was hardwired into the Pisten Bully snow cats at the Canmore Nordic Centre, but in 2013, through the Alberta Parks Innovation Fund, money was secured to develop an app for equipment operators which, when downloaded to an iPhone, would track the grooming equipment using the internal GPS antennae. So instead of receiving grooming information days after it occurred, avid cross-country skiers can now view the new grooming information in real time!

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How it works:

  • GPS information from an equipment operator’s smartphone is uploaded to a server in real time when in cell range or in near time when connected to Wi-Fi or cell.
  • GPS points are then plotted into a map – this can happen up to 30,000 in an 8 hour shift!
  • This information populates the trails table and a colour-coded legend shows the quality of the trail conditions related to the age of the grooming.

Now outdoor enthusiasts can see at a glance which trails likely have the best conditions!

To see if your favourite park has adopted the new system yet visit the Alberta Parks Trail Reports page.

Happy Skiing!!

(For additional information or to see what it takes to help your cross-country ski destination get set up with a Live Grooming Report contact Duane Fizor at duane.fizor@gov.ab.ca)

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