Tracking Snow Plows - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Tracking Snow Plows

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New technology is helping Iowa drivers beat the snow. The Iowa Department of Transportation has created an online tool to give drivers near real time information about road clearing right at their finger tips.

The real-time map showing every DOT snowplow out in the state at that moment is available on the Iowa Department of Transportation's website, www.iowadot.gov. Once on the main page, click on 'Plan Ahead' and then 'Winter Driving'. That's where you'll find the link for "Snowplow Locations" to get to the map.

And, if you click on one of the snowplow icons on the map, you can see information from that plow, including things like where it is heading and the temperature at its location.

The DOT says its all about helping drivers make smart decisions before heading out.

"It will give more transparency for example to our operations, let people see what's going on," said Bob Younie, State Maintenance Engineer for the Iowa DOT. "And we think that will be useful and we think that will help them make safer, better driving decisions."

Davenport's Public Works Department uses similar technology to make better decisions with its resources.

"We have the ability to tailor our response to the event that we're seeing and change that response during the event if Mother Nature gets her dander up and does something different," said Mike Clarke, Davenport Public Works Director.

With a couple inches of snow in the forecast for Saturday, the roads have been pre-treated and the city's fleet of plows is filled with salt and ready to go.

When the plows are turned on, a sort of GPS tracking device will be powered up, too, and will send back a variety of information every few minutes:

"We can get information off of that vehicle about what's going on, how fast its going, where it's going, is the blade up, is the blade down, road surface temperature, air temperature, how much salt per pound per lane mile is being distributed," Clarke said.

A Public Works supervisor in the Snow Operations Center monitors incoming information and uses it to make decisions to improve operations in real time.

"We can call the operator up and say, you know, 'increase your use of salt' or 'decrease your use of salt' or 'we need you to go to a higher priority area,'" Clarke explained.

Apparently, the technology that makes that possible has made quite a difference.

"Unscientific evidence is that we're doing better, based on the number of compliments that we get versus the number of complaints we receive," Clarke said.

Davenport is working on finding a way to make the snow plow tracking maps available to the public, just like the Iowa DOT has.

Any time you are out on the roads while snow plows are out working it is important to remember to leave plenty of space. For your safety, and that of the snowplow drivers, everyone is asked to stay back at least 50 feet.

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