For some reason the day after Halloween usually has me thinking about the upcoming snow season. It is not because I lived through the infamous snowstorm of Halloween 1991 (I was in college in Ohio at that time), it is because I work in city goverment and I know that this is the time of the year that public works crews begin to prep their fleets for the coming winter. However, I realized this morning that our city has been busy preparing for the arrival of snow since June. That is because this year we have been engaged in the implementation of new technologies that will enhance our ability to respond to snow events.
#1 AVL: AVL stands for Automatic Vehicle Locator system (AVL). It allows us to track the exact location of all 54 pieces of our snow removal fleet. This information will allow us to monitor our snow removal progress as well as more efficiently dispatch vehicles to problem areas. AVL also allows us to manage the quantity of deicing material that is placed on the road, so that just the necessary amount is applied. Having this information will help prevent overuse, which results in savings and is more respectful of the environment.
#2 RWIS: Also new this year is a Road and Weather Information System (RWIS) that will be installed on Viking Drive. The RWIS will automatically alert snow removal personnel via a phone call when conditions warrant the need for plowing or ice control. And because the system functions 24/7, it will give us the information we need to respond anytime of the day or night regardless of whether or it’s a weekday, weekend or holiday. Because the system can differentiate between rain, sleet, ice and snow, our personnel will be better equipped to respond to winter storm events. This will result in a better use of our resources and a faster response when bad weather strikes.
#3 Incident Command: Finally, we have established an incident command room at our Maintenance Facility that will process the mountain of data transmitted from our AVL and RWIS systems (#1 and #2 above). This information will be monitored by our Incident Commander so he can mobilize personnel and equipment where they are needed most. This will result in a response that is well coordinated and efficient.
That’s what we are doing. And, our Public Works employees tell me that there are things you can do to help us as well. The first is to limit any unnecessary travel until roads have been plowed. This keeps you safe and affords us the room we need to work. The second is to keep parked cars and garbage cans off of the road until the street is cleared. This allows us to do a better job faster, and keeps your streets free of snow after we have passed.
I hope you notice the difference this snow season. We take safe streets seriously in Eden Prairie, and as always, I invite you to let me know how we’re doing.