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New Yorkers to Get Real-Time Snow Plow Information

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

WNYC
A city snow plow clears the streets of Red Hook, Brooklyn on January 27, 2011. A city snow plow clears the streets of Red Hook, Brooklyn on January 27, 2011. (Douglas Q. Smith/WNYC)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city will be setting up a website so residents can track the locations of snow plows during snow storms. The city began installing GPS devices in snow plows after last winter's disastrous "Blizzard of 2010."  Word of the plan came after the city of Chicago announced a similar "plow tracker" site.

Last winter's blizzard was arguably one of the lowest points of Mayor Bloomberg's career.  The post-Christmas snowstorm brought the city to a stand still, and many residents were outraged when streets in the outer boroughs remained unplowed for days.

Officials acknowledged that efforts to clear the snow were hampered by a lack of information on the location of plows. To remedy that, city hall promised to install GPS devices in snow plows, so a dispatcher could track their location. But that information was not made available to the public.

With something of a splash, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday he'd be making snow plow locations public via a website, chicagoshovels.org. Chicago officials promised, "during major snow cleanup efforts, the city will activate the real-time “Plow Tracker” map, allowing the public to track the progress of city snow plows and make snow removal efforts more transparent.

Asked at a news conference whether he intended to make the GPS data on snow plow locations available on a public website like Chicago is doing, Mayor Bloomberg said, "Yeah, we have a whole plan we'll get you very quickly. We've been enhancing what we do. I don't know that it necessarily improves our ability to plow. We have the routes and we're gonna do it, but it does let you see where plows went and when they went there, and that's all."

While Chicago's website is now live, New York City officials cautioned that it's not yet clear what the New York website will look like, or when it will be up and running.

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