In the outdoor-rec world, apps can be quite an asset when planning trips. Powder Project shows backcountry ski trails in the area skiers currently are or will be going to. Mountain Project provides an immense and detailed amount of knowledge of climbing routes all over the world.
“It’s a live-based map that helps tourists and locals experience different businesses and find opportunities to recreate in a sustainable way,” said Nicholas LaScala.
Nicholas LaScala studied innovation entrepreneurship at Clarkson University, a program that serves as a business degree that also touches upon multiple aspects of the business world. A former marketing intern at the Adirondack Council and outdoor whitewater rafting guide in the Adirondacks, Nicholas puts together the social media and promotion side of the app, as well as coming up with the color scheme and the icons.
Luke Lascala studies computer science at Georgia Institute of Technology. He runs the programming and technical side of the app. Although they split responsibilities Nicholas LaScala says they both provide input and feedback for one another when making changes to the app.
“We all rely on the Adirondack park being here,” said Nicolas LaScala. “That is my driver for building this app.”
DackMap was built based on user experience. People can interact with the app and with each other, comment on people’s activity, add reviews of restaurants and even track their 46er progress.
“I’ve always wanted to make an app or someway where I can help Adirondack business owners attract tourists and also give environmental organizations like the ADK Mountain Club and the Adirondack Council the data and tools they need to help accommodate all the tourists and keep all the natural resources of the Adirondacks healthy because that is the tourist attraction,” said Nicholas LaScala.
The LaScala brothers take that data input by users and share it with organizations like the Adirondack Council. These organizations can see what areas are hotspots for tourists, where trailwork is needed and possibly add updates on weather reports.
“DackMap is potentially a game changer for people visiting and recreating across the Adirondack park, if it can live up to its potential as an online app with real time information where you can go where the wilderness resource capacity hasn’t been met,” said Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council.
This can prevent visitors from hogging a resource like Cascade Mountain. If users see that the Cascade parking area is full but another area has space, they can go there instead. This could be a part of solving the overuse problem in the Adirondacks that are negatively impacting visitor safety, experience and the wilderness of the Adirondacks.
“We need a comprehensive approach to overuse. We need robust education, leave no trace information and DackMap is an important potential piece of that information education, so that visitors can prepare before they come here,” said Janeway.
Janeway said that there is no one thing by itself that can address the overuse threat to the future of the Adirondacks. The New York State park system does that now. Visitors driving to a beach on Long island can look up online and see how full the parking lot is. The Adirondack region doesn’t have that world class education and infrastructure yet.
“Since it is new, a lot of that data is less than perfect. It is going to improve over time as people put more data in it.” said Janeway, “It will get more and more accurate and powerful.”
“Working together we can make the Adirondack park easier for more people to use. There are 8 million people within a day’s drive and by making it easier to use responsibly we can better protect this treasure so future generations can enjoy it too, so DackMap is an important part of that,” Janeway added.
LaScala hopes to reach people in all outdoor recreation communities, from snowmobilers to hikers to conservationists.
“For this idea to work we need to have mass adoption of this idea and obviously we need to have a good product for that.” said Nicholas LaScala. “The more people who are using it, the better we can make it for everybody. I think it is something that everybody in the park can get behind.”