Like many winters in the past, the blizzard of 2015 has made driving city streets throughout the Chicago Metropolitan area extremely challenging. However, two new city apps may help ensure that your streets remain clear of snow to make commuting easier and safer. The apps provided by the city alleviate being placed on hold to call centers looking for information on the cleanup response of the accumulated snow.
A new app is now available to put you in the driver’s seat of locating which roads in your area have been recently plowed of accumulated snow. The cleanup information is updated in real-time. This is because the snowplow equipment is monitored with GPS trackers using innovative technology.
Snowplows in the area are equipped with data transfer systems, including GPS information that is sent to the Chicago operation center. The data is compiled to generate instant reports in real-time. The operation center uses the information to make better decisions on clearing the city’s roadways in an effort to save time, reduce costs and get commuters back on the road.
The blizzard of 2011 buried buses, trucks, and cars and stranded residents for hours overnight on many of Chicago’s roadways. Many residents became angry that politicians and city officials were informing the community that cleanup was occurring, even though it was impossible to view in many areas of town that were hard hit. This informational disconnect prompted city officials to create and implement plow tracker apps.
Chicago’s operation center managing the sanitation department is always quick to respond to any snowfall in the area before it is allowed to reach its full potential. Operation managers dispatch plows to Chicago streets requiring immediate attention. They utilize city cameras placed throughout the community as a way to gain real-time insight of actual roadway conditions.
The city provides its Chicago Shovels Plow Tracker app to show you accurate snow events in real-time, including accumulated snow amounts at locations all throughout the metropolitan area. The new Clear Streets app harnesses and displays data accumulated from the Plow Tracker website, providing you with information to see if your street has been, or is being, plowed.
City operation centers usually provide valuable information on the plow tracker that the workforce will begin clearing the roads once snowfall stops. Typically, all the main routes throughout the community are cleared first before making a snow removal transition effort to plow accumulated snow and ice from neighborhood streets. In addition, the tracker provides information on snow preparation of the city’s roadways, where commuters and interested residents can view the movement of sand and salt spreaders preparing the streets before the blizzard event arrives.
How to Use the App
The City of Chicago is usually inundated with homebound commuters and stranded workers looking for answers on when major roadways and city side streets will be cleared for travel of accumulated snow and ice. In early 2012, the app was introduced to residents to provide answers about the response efforts of plowing city streets.
The cost of managing the app is minimal to the city because the city’s operation system is already collecting the GPS information to direct plow trucks. At virtually no extra cost, political powers are able to show skeptics and angry commuters that the plow trucks are working hard throughout the community, and not just clearing roadways used by the well-connected and wealthy residents in the community.
Many communities in the Chicago Metropolitan area, like the neighborhoods in Albany Park, are often overlooked by plows for days, weeks or longer. City officials contend that communities with narrow roads require the use of smaller plow trucks, which have limited availability. Now, residents can use tracking data to determine exactly what streets in the neighborhood are being plowed, and reach their own conclusion of the cleanup crew’s inefficiency or to dispel any suspicion to the contrary.
For the residents of the Chicago Metropolitan area, the Chicago Shovels Plow Tracker and Clear Streets applications provides residents a sense of security in knowing the streets are being cleared. In addition, the apps hold city officials accountable in their response to blizzards and major snowfalls throughout harsh Chicago winters.