Chicago launches 'Plow Tracker' website to monitor city's snow plows

January 3, 2012

Delal Pektas

(Flickr/pauldavidy)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched ChicagoShovels.org on Tuesday, in an effort to encourage residents to participate in winter-preparedness.

The new site is being launched with a real-time “Plow Tracker” that allows residents to monitor the progress of the city’s snow plows.

"It really is unlike garbage pick up in that the routes are different each time, depending on the shape of the storm. In some ways this is both about letting you know, giving you some advanced warning about the clearing of your street but also exposing the pattern," said Chicago's Chief Technology Officer John Tolva.

The site also includes features like "Adopt-a-Sidewalk", "Snow Corps" and "Winter Apps".

The portal also provides a platform for residents and businesses to organize and participate in neighborhood-level activities.

"Adopt-a-Sidewalk” is a shoveling initiative where Chicagoans can soon visit the site and sign up to be a part of the program. It will be launched in Beta to allow for user feedback.

“Winter preparedness is everyone’s responsibility, and when we come together, community by community, block by block, we can help reduce the dangers and health risks that winter weather can bring,” said Emanuel.

“ChicagoShovels.org is an important resource that not only informs Chicagoans about how they can help their neighbors, but allows them to see the City’s snow program in action during severe weather,” Emanuel added.

"Snow Corps" is a new program that connects volunteers with residents in need of snow removal – such as seniors and residents with disabilities. Volunteers can sign up using an online form to help those in need.

Winter apps like, Twoinch.es, informs and alerts drivers of winter parking bans. WasMyCarTowed.com uses the City’s towed and relocated vehicle data to help people locate their vehicles.

The City of Chicago’s data portal, data.cityofchicago.org, currently hosts more than 271 datasets with over 20 million rows of data. Since Mayor Emanuel took office on May 16, 2011, the portal has been viewed nearly 750,000 times and over 37 million rows of data have been accessed.

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