The City of Chicago is helping citizens stay winter-ready thanks to a new online portal called Chicago Shovels. As stated on its website, this tool is intended to “help connect the public with City winter resources and empower neighbors to come together to help Chicago navigate winter.”
On the City Shovels portal, Chicagoans can view updated weather information and forecasts to check out conditions across the city. There are also four featured services that take effect during Chicago winters, including Plow Tracker, Adopt-a-Sidewalk, Snow Corps, and Winter Apps.
Plow Tracker uses GPS technology to show the real-time locations of city plows on a map. According to Kevin Hauswirth, Director of Social Media for the City of Chicago, this tool is “just another way that we’re bringing transparency to city government and keeping city services accountable to the taxpayers.”
In addition to city services, the public holds its own share of responsibility in managing snow conditions. Adopt-a-Sidewalk allows Chicagoans to come together as a neighborhood and “claim” the sidewalks in front of their houses for cleanup; embedded in this function is the opportunity for the sharing of resources among friends and neighbors.
Similar to Adopt-a-Sidewalk, Snow Corps draws on public volunteers who are willing to service residents in need of snow removal, such as senior citizens and people with disabilities. Elderly and disabled citizens can request help through 311 services and will be matched with volunteers to have their sidewalks shoveled.
Using Chicago open data, Winter Apps help people navigate Chicago snow by providing alerts and access to city information. For example, one app informs drivers of winter parking bans while another app helps owners find their cars in cases of winter towing or relocation.