WinterWalk is a service which collects data from community volunteers about the walking conditions of neighbourhood streets and displays this data on an easy-to-use digital map.

Walking promotes wellness through exercise and social connectedness for all members of the community.

Community members will be encouraged to get moving during the winter months when they feel assured that their walk will be safe and enjoyable.

In recent winters, poor walking conditions have created significant barriers for some community members' ability to walk outdoors. Seniors and others may feel unsafe walking in deep snow or slippery conditions, and instead opt to stay home and lead a more sedentary winter lifestyle as a result.

WinterWalk was started as a local project in Ottawa, the objectives and deployment are readily translatable to many Canadian, and Northern US, cities that are affected by winter walking hazards.

Product Design & Development

The SnowMoles reporting program was started by the Council on Aging of Ottawa (COA). This program involves organizing both individuals and groups to perform audits of  winter sidewalk conditions, and then providing reports by paper form, or via web-based questionnaires.

While this program can help to build public awareness, and can support the advocacy function of COA, the data collected is too irregular and unstructured to provide any personal guidance.  The WinterWalk app is designed to make regular observations, on local conditions, that can be used by Seniors to make a decision if they want to get out to walk.

After performing a review of similar systems and apps, we determined that there is no existing system which we could partner with, or build on, therefore we have to build it ourselves.

I developed the preliminary user interface, so the next goal was to engage the programmers to create the User Trials version of the App.

A preliminary concept was developed at an Ottawa Hackathon ( in late 2019.  While this helped us to better understand network and interface issues, we hoped to take it to the next level to create a robust, multi-user, networked app.

The User Trials will allow us to better understand actual user uptake and requirements for:

• the projected elderly users, and

• the diverse community volunteer reporters.

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