What Makes a Ski Area Incident Management Software Package a Good One?

What Makes a Ski Area Incident Management Software Package a Good One?

Having represented four different incident management software programs designed for the ski area industry, I thought I’d share with you what I heard from many ski patrols about what makes an excellent program.

I currently represent SmartMountain, which I think rates an excellent grade. Bright knowledgeable programmers developed two of the programs I repped. They each brought their product to market too soon and needed more resources to advance their programs to satisfy the market. The fourth, the initial one repped, was taking an incident management program designed by people without knowledge of the ski business. It was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole—shame on me.

It was representing the two developing programs that taught me a lot about what ski patrols wanted. The other factor was that litigation defense attorneys and insurance companies were driving the thinking of risk managers and, thus, ski patrols. Initially, some defense attorneys did not want the records to be easily accessible, but I think that line of thinking has passed. Insurance companies wanted their forms of recording incidents to be filled out legibly and complete with the information they deemed necessary for defense and timely-worthy aims.

The reality is a wreck is not just a wreck, meaning there is more to know than who was involved, where it happened, and the injuries and treatment. Was the injured on rental equipment, and if so, rented from the ski area’s rental shop? Was the injured in a ski lesson, and if so, what are the details of that lesson? And then, finally, did the injured sign a valid waiver? So, you can see there is more complexity to a ski patrol incident management program.

The features I perceived ski patrols want in their digital tool.

  • Ease of use
  • Full mountain coverage
  • Limited It dependency
  • Use NSAA, CWSA, MountainGuard, or ski area form
  • Able to include statements, injured party or representative, and witnesses
  • Able to include pictures and drawings
  • Full incident investigation capability, including specific forms used by investigators
  • Missing person reporting and tracking per ski area protocol
  • Track workflow – meaning trail checks, sweeps, work assignments, and training
  • Roster management
  • Dispatch
  • Incident tracking by location and status
  • Map of current responses
  • Lift status
  • Roster availability – who to dispatch
  • Forms creation
  • The features Snow Safety want in their digital tool
  • Avalanche tracking, including history
  • Statistical and geospatial analysis of historical weather data
  • Geospatial analysis and visualization of snow pit data
  • Avalanche route tracking/reports
  • Control measure history
  • Shot or bomb placement maps
  • Connection to nearest tool/weather stations
  • Explosive Inventory
  • Dashboard to reflect needed avalanche work
  • Mobile access
  • The features Risk Managers want in their digital tool
  • Easy access to information
  • Ability to quickly access incident information for investigation needs
  • Access to historical data for risk assessment
  • Connection to CRM/POS to gather pertinent and historical information relating to patient or claimant

In the decision-making process, who decides what product is chosen? What are the weights put on the different features to determine what is best for the ski area and, ultimately, the guests? My experience relating to decision-making has been interesting. When I first entered this arena, it was the beginning of digitization, and there was an attitude that we didn’t need it, which has pretty much faded over the last five years. I have found that the risk manager’s needs to supersede the ski patrol’s needs, and Snow safety goes its own way if a snow safety program is needed. I have spoken with patrols who have indicated they have a program coming but haven’t been involved in selecting the program.

Reviewing ski patrol software sidetracked me to look at waivers for ski areas. What I learned is interesting, more complex, and detailed than I had realized. I will share my thoughts on what I learned in the following Steep Management newsletter.

I could not end without giving a shoutout to SmartMountain, which clears all these points but one – connection to a CRM/POS, although that certainly is a possibility.

Data and Information

Database of record: Centralized and organized data assists in recognizing and evaluating patterns, resulting in more thoughtful planning and informed predictions.

Rapid, intuitive retrieval of current and historical data (accessible on or offsite) improves decision making at all levels of management.

Simple report generation.

Reduces risk and potential lawsuits.

Supports visualization of current and future mountain infrastructure (e.g. Gazex explosives locations, forest thinning, designing new runs, parking, etc.).


Please click on the images to learn more

Ski Patrol

  • Ease of real-time data entry (no more logbooks or spreadsheets!).
  • Use of common language allows for consistent communication and information sharing.
  • Increases safety by minimizing accidents through pattern analysis of incidents.
  • Accident Investigation and Risk Management.
  • Snow Safety (Ski Patrol) Training.

The web and mobile application suite will provide editing and data collection tools for mapping incidents (wrecks, accidents) of any kind.

Please click on the images to learn more.

Avalanche Module


Ability to document, track and analyze slope conditions with one tool.

Ease of real-time data entry (no more logbooks or spreadsheets!).

 Centralized and organized data assists in recognizing and evaluating patterns, resulting in more thoughtful planning and informed predictions.

Provides detailed current and historical weather patterns for visualizing/predicting.

Saves money through more precise use of explosives. 

Please click on the images to learn more.


The dispatch and risk module leverage Esri’s Survey 123 for ArcGIS, providing an intuitive survey-form, data-driven workflow for point feature collection and reporting. Data collected with SmartMountain Survey apps, which are available for both web browsers and native desktop and mobile apps for standard operating systems, are integrated with one or more SmartMountain modules, providing real-time or disconnected and later synchronized workflows for data collection and integration.

Each ski resort decided what they wish to display on the Dispatch Dashboard including on-hill incidents, walk-in incidents, on-hill refusals,  missing persons, work details for different departments, ski patrol rosters for the day, clearances, and sweeps.

Please click on the images to learn more.


  • Logs for Lift Maintenance, Lift Operations, and Groomer inspections, as well as building inspections.
  • Logs can record data and signatures, can record stops, station assignments.
  • Logs are tracked by calendar.


  • Management review made easy through the use of Excel – reviewing a major grouping of assets or a single component of an asset such as a drive or a gearbox.
  • All information related to a system(asset) is in one place whether it be a lift inspection report, a manual, oil analysis, a service bulletin, or a letter from a vendor.


  • Every user has a unique dashboard.
  • Dashboards can be customized to reflect a user’s specific needs.
  • Quick access to the status of work and cost .


  • The schedule function in MountainOffice provides for detailed instructions by task, recording of data such as the temperature of a gearbox, and service bulletins.
  • All schedules can have a time or counter trigger.