No longer will residents of Pittsburgh need to keep their eyes and ears out to know when a public snow plow is headed their way. On Jan. 16, Mayor Bill Peduto unveiled an online service that will allow the public to track the locations of snow plows and salt spreaders.
“Every year in Pittsburgh you can hear the chants coming from the valleys and the hilltops: Where’s my plow at?” Peduto joked at a news conference, adding that now, residents will know the answer.
The mapping system will allow the public to locate snow removal vehicles in real time, as well as view a history for each vehicle. Streets that have already been serviced will be highlighted on the map in green. All 114 of the public works vehicles have been outfitted with GPS devices. Drivers cannot turn the systems off, but tracking will only be visible to the public during weather events.
In addition to helping the city rebut complaints about inadequate snow removal efforts, Director of Public Works Mike Gable said that the system will assist supervisors in quickly identifying areas that haven’t received service and deploying vehicles to those locations.
Pittsburgh residents should keep in mind that they have responsibilities as well; the occupant of any building fronting city sidewalks is required to remove snow or ice within 24 hours. The ordinance applies to renters, as well as owners. A failure to meet this obligation can result in fines.
Local laws also stipulate that shoveled snow cannot be thrown into the street, but rather must be piled in lawn areas or close to the curb.
It’s important, however, to take seriously the health risks associated with shoveling snow, particularly for people over 50 or anyone with heart conditions. Pittsburgh is serviced by a volunteer organization, Snow Angels, that shovels sidewalks for elderly or disabled people; homeowners may also elect to hire private residential snow removal services.
“This is a really innovative way for the city to help get people to where they need to go during this time of year,” says Hayley Katzenberger, marketing assistant at Chapel Valley. “I would highly recommend anything like this for other cities — it sounds like it would be very convenient for people to simply use their smartphone to track the progress of plows.”