Joliet snow plows get GPS
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org February 20, 2013 5:02PM
Joliet's snow plows are now equipped with Global Positioning System technology. | File photo
Updated: March 22, 2013 10:29AM
As much as 5 inches of snow is possible late Thursday night. Will the city of Joliet know where its snow plows are?
Not only will the city know where its snow plows are. But supervisors back at the garage now can tell in real time how close a plow is getting to your street, said Mike Eulitz, who oversees snow plow operations for Joliet.
Eulitz gave the city council a report this week on the implementation of Global Positioning System technology in city trucks. The report could be a timely one given the U.S. National Weather Service’s forecast of possible snow between 3 to 5 inches Thursday night followed by freezing drizzle in the morning.
Typically on a day like that, the city gets lots of calls from residents wanting to know when the plow is getting to their streets. Now, Eulitz said, the city will know exactly where all plows are at any given time.
“We can tell them, ‘Right now, they’re in the subdivision to your east, and they’ll be in your subdivision next,’” he said.
The answers won’t always be so satisfying.
Eulitz noted that plowing all the streets in Joliet is not as smooth as job as most people seem to think it is.
“People think it takes a certain amount of time to plow all the streets in the city,” he said. “Some thing that amount of time is two hours, where in reality it takes four hours just to get the major routes.”
But the GPS system has already proven remarkably handy.
Eulitz said on a snow day earlier this winter, “An individual called up and said the truck had not been there. We said he was just down there. He looked out his window and said, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’”
Besides giving people a better idea of when the plow is coming to their street, the GPS system has other advantages.
The system also gives the city better ability to redirect trucks for emergencies, such as plowing a street where an ambulance needs to get to a house.
Eulitz said some of the trucks are equipped with GPS systems that give readings on how much salt is being poured where. So, the city can track whether it’s using too much salt or too little, and make adjustments.
The city will also be able to review plowing activity on a given snowfall and determine whether trucks were used most effectively.
Said Eulitz, “It’s almost like looking at game film when the game is over.”