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Snow avalanche detectors: IOT technology applied to people safety, Part 3

The previous parts of this blog series, Snow avalanche detectors: IoT technology applied to people safety, Part 1 and Snow avalanche detectors: IoT technology applied to people safety, Part 2, describe the utilization of electronics technology in the advanced warning to people in the region likely to have snow avalanches. Users wearing gadgets are able to receive data about the snow conditions, like depth, shape, composition, and temperature of the snow. The data is collected and analyzed by means of the AWS (Automatic Weather Station) which is present in many countries (see Figure 1):

“The avalanche warning service (LWD) in Austria is responsible to gather basic meteorological data as well as the snow depths for the assessment of the snow and avalanche situation in the mountains. The data are centrally administered and analyzed. Diverse meteorological information as well as avalanche alert levels is given out for the ski areas, the road operators at mountain passes as well as for the wide public.…to correctly assess the actual snow and weather situation any time, the LWD has to build up and operate a network of measurement stations. In the federal state of Vorarlberg for example there are up to now roughly 30 automatic weather stations (AWS) and further observing stations established…. Diverse measurement data are recorded by the weather stations and transferred to a central data collection. Trained personnel of the avalanche warning service combine the records of the meteorological measuring network with the information of taken snow profiles and reports to the general weather situation for the judgement of the local situation. They analyze and interpret all the data. The avalanche warning service publishes daily avalanche situation reports with judgement of the avalanche risk level in diverse areas of the federal state. This reports are accessible via internet. With that, possible avalanches can be predicted and if necessary big snow amounts can be blast off before avalanches are damaging and harmful. ” (Source: Sommer)

Figure 1

The Automatic Weather Station in Austria and the data recorded by the sensors 
(Source: Sommer.at)

The Automatic Weather Station in Austria and the data recorded by the sensors (Source: Sommer.at)

Electronics technology plays an important role in the prevention of snow avalanches by the use of AWS systems because there are sensors, like those in the following paragraph, on the market that are available to determine the snow’s physical conditions by means of a laser:

“The 260-700 Ultrasonic Snow Depth Sensor is an inexpensive solution for remotely measuring snow depth or water levels. The sensor works by measuring the time required for an ultrasonic pulse to travel to and from a target surface. An integrated temperature probe with solar radiation shield, provides an air temperature measurement for properly compensating the distance measured. An embedded microcontroller calculates a temperature compensated distance and performs an error checking routine.” (Source: novalynx.com)

Figure 2

The 260-700 snow depth sensor made by NOVALYNX Company and its principle of operation (Source: NOVALYNX)

The 260-700 snow depth sensor made by NOVALYNX Company and its principle of operation (Source: NOVALYNX)

Do you think this type of approach can help prevent the dangerous effects of the snow avalanches? Do you think the number of people involved in this type of danger will decrease in the near future with this type of prevention?

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