How LocalGovs Use Tech to Get Severe Weather Ready

Governments use technology to keep residents connected and safe during severe weather.

As major storms and instances of severe weather impact cities countrywide, public works departments turn to technology to communicate with residents and improve services and safety.

Snow Plow Trackers and Shovel Briages

A growing number of local governments have developed custom applications that provide both public workers and residents with real-time information on services provided. In this winter months, this is especially important for communities impacted by heavy snowfall.

Applications make it easier for users to monitor snow plows as they make their way through neighborhoods. Cities such as New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have launched websites and mobile applications with interactive maps to track where snow plows currently are in the community.

The applications can notify users when a plow has made its way down a specific block to help people plan efficient routes or schedule a time to dig out their vehicles. The GPS apps also provide government agencies with a simple tool for directing snow plows more effectively along routes during major storms. The Minneapolis snow emergency application goes one step further and provides information on the city’s parking rules unique to days when a snow emergency has been declared.

Chicago and Pittsburgh also offer residents with links to connect volunteers willing and able to come and shovel or plow a neighbor’s driveway, sidewalk or walkway when heavy snowfall strikes. These tools help reduce injuries during inclement weather while enabling mobility.

Emergency Planning Apps

Other cities not burdened by heavy snowfall are developing apps that spread emergency messages and preparedness information to help residents prepare for and deal with dangerous situations such as earthquakes, fires or heavy rainfall.

The SD Emergency App for San Diego, for example, enables users to:

  • Read disaster preparedness tips
  • Create checklists for an emergency plan
  • Build emergency supply kids
  • Receive messages and emergency updates in real time
  • View emergency maps with shelter locations

In Jacksonville, the city’s emergency preparedness mobile app connects users to notifications and tips for staying safe. The platform also encourages users to leverage the sharing functionality to spread news and updates with others in their social networks.

The state of Florida has implemented software for logistics management in the event of natural disasters and states of emergency. The massive application manages every resource across the state to ensure tools and personnel are deployed effectively when there is little to no room for error. This can save time, money and prevent injury or fatalities in stressful situations.

The American Red Cross has also teamed up with local governments to increase access to their first aid app that can provide detailed tips and guidance for users in need of care during an emergency. Many utilities providers are developing mobile apps for specific cities so local customers can receive utility reports and access information on outages during a storm.

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