Pascal Haegeli, Christoph Mitterer, Thomas Stucki, Matthias Walcher, and Reto Rupf
Proceedings of the 2023 International Snow Science Workshop in Bend, Oregon
Publication year: 2023

Click here to download Pascal’s paper.


Having an in-depth understanding of how avalanche forecast users access, understand, and apply avalanche hazard information is critical for making informed decisions about how to improve existing services or develop new ones. While there is a growing body of survey research examining the practices and capabilities of forecast users, the impact of this research on product development decisions as well as its contribution to the understanding of the user community in general has been limited so far. Some of the reasons contributing to this challenge are the recruitment of diverse samples being challenging, academic research being too slow and not aligning well with development timelines, and studies typically being one-offs only focusing on a particular research question and not contributing to the development of a more comprehensive understanding of the user community.

We present a system for avalanche forecast user research that aims to help avalanche warning services and collaborating researchers overcome some of the practical challenges of this type of research and use online surveys more efficiently to create meaningful insights. Our system consists of i) a research panel, ii) a signup survey with standardized signup questions, and iii) a template for targeted research surveys to streamline survey design and deployment. Each of these components is explained in detail. Together, the research system aims to allow avalanche warning services to deploy shorter and more targeted research surveys more frequently, but still have the scientific rigor necessary to provide informative insight. Thereby, the system intends to foster a more continuous and structured two-way communication between avalanche warning services and their users, as well as more efficient collaborations between avalanche warning services and social scientists.

Click here to access the standardized background questions for avalanche safety surveys.