Columbus Tracking Plows Via GPS To Get Roads Clean

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UPDATED: Tuesday February 11, 2014 6:10 PM

Nearly all of the city's snow plows are managed by a computer system that can tell them where plows are at all times and what they're doing.

But for some people who live on streets like this, they wonder whether the plows even know their street exists.

"This is awful," says Kat Brush who lives in Southeast Columbus.

She lives at the corner of Buggywhip Lane and Moonlight lane.

"If you look at the road I don't think they've been plowed at all,” she says.

Brush says the thick snow that covers her street is a safety concern.

"It sucks you're slipping and sliding and afraid you’re going to hit into somebody's car,” she says.

We went looking for answers inside the city's snow plow operations center.

It's here where a program called Warrior Watch watches every snow plow, electronically via GPS satellite.

"The sun is helping us today and we're really moving a lot of snow,” says Pati Austin who works for the department of public service in planning operations.

The computer program tells dispatchers not only where a plow is, but what it's doing.

Like is the plow moving snow, or spreading salt.

"The very cold temperatures have really slowed us down and the residential collectors are not getting as cleared as we like," she says.

The city blames a salt shortage as a major reason some streets aren't as clear as they should be.

"We're cutting that salt with sand to stretch our salt supplies,” says Shane Mark who is works as a transportation operations coordinator for the city.

That mixture he says doesn't melt the snow as fast, so when a plow comes down a street it looks like nothing was done.

"The salt is not as effective compared to straight salt,” he said.

Meanwhile people like Kat Brush just want her street driveable again, and her patience unlike the ice, is running thin.

"The snow is pretty deep and you're slipping and sliding and you shouldn’t be like that", she said.

While the GPS system tells the city where plows and what they're doing it doesn't tell them how well the street was plowed.

That's job of city spotters who drive the routes to make sure streets are plowed correctly.

If you have an issue with your street, contact the city's 3-1-1 center at 645-3111.

WEB EXTRA - City Explains GPS Tracking

Tracking What Streets Have Been Plowed

  • All Snow Warriors’ trucks are equipped with the GPS/AVL Warrior Watch system, which is an upgrade from the former COMBAT (Central Ohio Management Based Applied Technology) GPS system used 2009-2012
  • The new GPS/AVL Warrior Watch is on all snow plow trucks, including dump trucks, one-ton pickups and anti-icers
  • Allows the City to track locations of trucks in real time; the GPS/AVL Warrior Watch reports the locations of trucks every 15 seconds
  • Can track work trucks are doing (plow is up or down; salting or not)
  • Helps the City be more efficient and effective in plowing and treating streets
  • The new GPS/AVL Warrior Watch system provides a record of streets that have been plowed
  • City also can verify whether a street has been plowed by checking maps that have been completed by plow truck drivers.  The drivers check off streets on their maps as they plow the streets assigned to them.
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