Elizabeth Daigneau is GOVERNING's managing editor.E-mail: email@example.com
To keep from blowing this year's snow removal budget, Chicago is deploying Global Positioning Systems, sensors and cameras to plow the streets.
Coming off two of the harshest and most costly winters in Chicago's history, the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation is looking to avoid budget-busting overtime and still remove the snow from city streets this winter. To do that, the city is putting Global Positioning Systems, high-tech sensors and the city's network of surveillance cameras to work. The cameras will give supervisors an idea what the situation on the streets is, and will help them track how efficient the almost 300 snow plows and salt trucks are in clearing roadways. The cameras will also help the city track the movement of snow plows without putting nearly as many supervisors on the street -- Chicago is reducing the number of on-the-ground supervisors this winter from 30 to 10. Sensors on the trucks will tell camera-monitoring supervisors how much salt is being spread, how many tons are still in the truck and whether the blade on a plow is up or down. At the end of the snow season, officials will reevaluate their strategy for more cost-cutting ideas and ways to improve the process.