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Snowed in? Snowplow tracking apps could help dig you out

Snowed in? Snowplow tracking apps could help dig you out
photo courtesy of shutterstock

If you live in the northern states, chances are you're waking up to snow. And not just a little bit of it, either. Several states have created apps to track snowplows so citizens can still make it to work and school.

Sure it's great to be able to see when snowplows are headed your way after a blizzard, but what good are they if your city botches the response? It turns out snowplow tracking apps are actually helping citizens put the screws to local governments when they don't do a good enough job clearing the snow.

It's long been known that certain areas of the cities will get cleared before others, like the neighborhoods of the mayor or aldermen or basically anyone with money. And now that cities like Chicago and New York have implemented tracking apps for snowplows, regular citizens can make sure that civil servants are aware of the imbalance.

The app that Alexandra Clark was using to monitor the snowplows said that her area of Chicago was already cleared. But Clark's senses told her otherwise.

"'Plow tracker said my street was plowed an hour ago - Pull the other leg,' the 31-year-old video producer tweeted to the mayor's office, including a photo of her snowed-in street."

Citizens who feel cheated or lied to by the system take to Twitter to inform their city. Sometimes it gets results, like plows being sent to clear the streets in question, but sometimes the results aren't exactly what citizens hope for.

"'No joke, the next week when it snowed overnight, a plow had come through and taken off the side mirror of my car,' the Redondo Beach, California-native recalled with a laugh. 'It's probably coincidence but after that I really didn't tweet much to the city of Chicago anymore.'"

There was an incident in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago where residents claimed that their streets had been skipped all season, and the app data backed them up. They complained that they were forced to clear the streets themselves with shovels and snowblowers.

The official response was that their neighborhood required smaller plows that currently didn't transmit GPS data and couldn't be tracked by apps. However, after the incident was aired on a local news broadcast, the streets were cleared the next day.

Don't underestimate the power of social media. Even the FBI is making use of social media in their day-to-day tasks.

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