Tracking Contractor Snow Plowing Activity Made Easy with a Mobile App

Assign routes to drivers, track location, active work, and duration

November 15, 2016  | by Vladimir Bychkov

Long before the first flakes fall from the sky many municipalities begin to prepare for the cold, icy, and snowy conditions that inevitably lie ahead. For these state and local governments, delivering time-sensitive and critical services to communities can be a challenge. While the first snowstorm of the season may be a site to behold, residents grow antsy quickly and want to know when their street will be cleared and when things will resume to normal.

During times like these, busy municipalities turn to contract labor – privately owned pick-up trucks, plows, and other off-road vehicles – to clear smaller routes and residential neighborhoods, while city- or state-owned plows concentrate on major thoroughfares and emergency routes.

“When Will My Street Be Cleared?”

While private contractors are a great asset to snow removal efforts, keeping tabs on their contributions to road clearing activities can be a challenge. When communities experience heavy snow, agencies and residents need to know which routes have been cleared, which ones are next on the schedule, and when it’s safe to travel again.

And here is the problem. While the city and county might have clear information on the location, speed, and operating capacity of the vehicles they own, this information is not readily available for private contractors in real-time. For the city and/or county this means that information sought by the public, namely the plowing progress, location, and expectation of when their street may be cleared, is the one set of information ostensibly unavailable to them, let alone available to the public.

One option is to equip every contractor vehicle with real-time GPS tracking systems – but installing and removing these on an annual basis would be cost prohibitive.

Tracking Snow Clearing Efforts in Real-Time

We’ve come up with a simpler and more cost-effective alternative – SNOWiQ. The solution consists of two mobile applications, a smartphone app for the snowplow operator, and an app for the supervisor. Addionally, there is a public facing portal to keep constituents up-to-date on snow the removal progress. These applications work in concert to facilitate distribution and control of assignments during and after a snowstorm.

Using these apps, city and county agencies can now assign routes to drivers, track the location, active work, and duration of contractor support. SNOWiQ also allows agencies to analyze the received data and report on the performance of contracted services to internal stakeholders using a map-based dashboard – giving both government agencies and the public greater transparency into snow clearing activities. In fact, a public portal allows residents to access snow removal statistics, the current number of active snowplows, and they can even enter their address to see snowstorm related information pertinent to their location.

A 360-Degree Operational Picture

Having all of this information on all vehicles – public or private – also gives fleet managers an unprecedented operational picture. Plows can be redeployed or redirected as needed and more vehicles can be added or removed, based on resource availability, snow accumulation in particular area, and other priorities without engaging into excessive micromanagement. Using the analytics from the app, agencies gain visibility into the efficacy of individual snow-clearing crews.

Municipalities can also use this analysis for predictive modeling of future snowstorms and their potential impact.

In addition, an optional API feature gives external application developers the power to build applications based on collected data and/or integrate this information into public websites, giving much needed transparency to both municipal stakeholders and the public.

Snow is inevitable, but with SNOWiQ, being in the know in real-time is easier than ever. The solution can also be deployed for additional use cases such as tracking trash removal services and other civic activities.

More About SNOWiQ

SNOWiQ is powered by the TERRAiQ platform and offered to organizations on a per vehicle subscription basis as Software as a Service. There is no hardware to acquire, no software to manage, just a simple, cloud delivered solution leveraging the mobile computing power of the devices already in the hands of those that provide services to our communities.

To learn more, please reach out to Jill DaSilva at jdasilva@eastbanctech.com or 202-295-3010.

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