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Case study: How IoT is keeping slopes safer for skiers

Steve Rogerson
March 22, 2017

The ski season will soon be coming to a close and winter sports fans are taking to the slopes to make the most of what remains of the snow. Behind the scenes, IoT technology is helping to make the season safer for all concerned.
One of the leading technologies in this area has been developed by Wyssen, a Swiss company based at the foot of the Alps that develops avalanche control systems. Wyssen is integrating into its devices a highly resilient IoT connectivity device from Podsystem M2M, a UK-based IoT connectivity and innovation company.
Wyssen’s system has been designed to detect and prevent avalanches using various monitoring systems – such as radar, infrasound sensors and geophones – and artificial triggering techniques with explosive charges. Wyssen designs and manufactures avalanche towers, which are solar powered and fitted with a deployment box holding the battery, electronics and the charges.
A sophisticated algorithm and sensors are used to provide an early warning of increasing avalanche activity in a given area based on detection of infrasound emissions. All the data monitored by the towers, including feedback from weather stations, result from radar installations and sensors; footage from the cameras is sent to a central control centre where it can be analysed. Should action be required, an explosive charge can be detonated once it is confirmed no humans are in the danger area.
Due to the remote nature of the towers and the need for resilient, mission critical connectivity, Wyssen has decided to integrate signal, multi-network SIM cards into its devices. The Podsystem M2M system has been designed with these requirements in mind, including global connectivity across multiple networks on one SIM card, connection to the best signal on device start-up and the ability to swap to a back-up network automatically if the signal is lost, giving the most reliable and flexible coverage for Wyssen’s devices wherever they may be situated.
“The flexibility of the Podsystem M2M SIM card was paramount,” said Bejamin Meier, engineer at Wyssen. “We wanted a single SIM card, interchangeable for each device that makes up our system. This makes management of the SIMs simple and straightforward.”
Charles Towers-Clark, managing director of Podsystem, added: “Wyssen’s solution is an excellent example of how the IoT and big data can help improve our lives. The combination of Wyssen’s state-of-the-art technology with Podsystem M2M’s connectivity, which has been specially designed for remote and mission critical IoT applications, will result in a highly resilient solution that will help save lives on the slopes.”