Hit The Slopes: Timmy Crawford Sends Snow Updates via SMS Alerts

SMS Alerts

timmyWhen fresh powder calls, you answer. Ski-junkie and developer Timmy Crawford (pictured right) built ConePatrol he and his fellow skiers could get instant alerts when Mount Bachelor in Bend, OR had fresh powder. Now, about 2 years since ConePatrol launched, Timmy has over 1,000 users who wake up to his SMS alerts, boots and gloves in hand, ready to speed to the mountain.

We talked to Timmy about shredding gnar, writing code, and what other Twilio hacks he has up his sleeve.

When did you first start hacking with Twilio?

My first introduction to Twilio was at the first Ruby on Ales conference in Bend back in 2011. One of the Developer Evangelists did a talk on Twilio and the gears started turning at that point. I had the first version of Cone Patrol up and running that fall for the 11-12 ski season.

When did you first put your dev skills to use to make shredding gnar easier?

I used to work up at Mt. Bachelor as the IT Manager, and while there I wrote a system called “Track Your Turns” which allowed skiers to view all the data attached to their ski pass (Days Skied, Runs Skied, Total vertical feet). The first version of ConePatrol in 2011 had support for powder wake up calls with music to get shredders stoked.

What type of feedback have you gotten from users?

People really love the powder SMS alerts, myself included. There have been times when I have been in a room with my friends getting ready to go skiing, and all of our phones start chirping. As all Twilio developers know, sending messages that bring happiness never gets old.

Adoption of the SMS alerts is much larger than my Android app offering. I think that really shows the versatility of SMS in this space over push notifications. The ability to have users interact with your application without having to download a native app is very powerful, and many users have commented on how it feels less obtrusive.

We passed the 1,000 subscriber mark this season with very limited exposure and advertising as well. Unfortunately, the snow has been sparse this year so we haven’t gotten to send out many powder alerts lately.

Any other Twilio hacks planned for this season?

Ironically I have written a screen scraping Ruby Gem to go back and extract Track Your Turn data from that old system I wrote years ago. Skiers can now track their turns via SMS alerts – any day that they ski, they get a text at the end of the day telling them how many runs they did. I skied with my 6 year old daughter last week and it was pretty neat to show her how many runs she did that afternoon – made us both pretty proud.

By tying into the season pass usage data, we could potentially roll some pretty cool features in like locating your friends real-time on the mountain, and sending out promotions to guests who are currently skiing on any given day.

Anything you’d like to add?

A friend and I are now taking the sporting alert concept into a different space pretty soon. I think there is still lots of room for niche applications using SMS with Twilio. Not to mention MMS support now, we are looking to do some very fun things.

Learn more about Timmy Crawford and his latest projects here