A new app designed to forecast geyser events in Yellowstone National Park will help ensure that visitors get what they came for.
The app, called NPS Yellowstone Geysers, was announced in a press release this week. It sends real-time eruption predictions for six Yellowstone geysers, including Old Faithful, to visitors’ smartphones and tablets. People unable to witness the eruptions in person can watch the app’s live stream, synced to webcams throughout the park.
Project lead Brett Oppegaard, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, says NPS Yellowstone Geysers is a jumping-off point for a more digitally immersive park experience. Oppegaard, who developed the first interpretive mobile app for NPS five years ago, has already put together new teams of academics and NPS employees to make more park features digitally accessible.
“We have plans to make many more apps, for a variety of devices and platforms, to explore our bigger research question: Can mobile technologies do better [to inform] than other information technologies at the park, such as brochures and wayside signs?” Oppegaard told Outside.
The park has spotty cellphone reception, which is necessary for watching the live streams and accessing predictions and Yellowstone’s social media feed. The rangers, however, don’t seem worried. “As of last week, Old Faithful, Grant, and Lake all have 4G coverage from Verizon,” park representatives wrote on their Facebook page.
The predictions, of course, aren’t perfect. As National Parks Traveler notes, the app offers a suggested 20-minute window in which to catch each Old Faithful eruption. For Grand Geyser, the window extends to 90 minutes before and after the prediction.