Friday, February 14, 2014

How Our City Plows Snow (+PlowGame)

Here's a fun game you can play.  
Have you ever wondered what goes through a plow driver's mind when he skips your street?

Have you ever fully examined your local neighborhood to identify not just the overlooked streets, but the exact reasons for why they seem to be ignored by the city when it's snow time?

The temporary answer is the Snow Plow Game, which uses Custom Google Maps to plot points on the map. First, you should learn some things about the way that the city plows their snow before you play this game. Then, you can play.

City "Snow Emergency Route" Streets
1. The city prioritizes streets. 
You might live on Kohary, or Judwin. But that's just not the first street the city plows. There's a map provided by the Dept. of Engineering which tells you which streets are plowed first. If you like bulky PDF files, this is your great opportunity to download a large file (1.7mb).

However if you prefer the lightweight KML Map Data with custom Google Maps, that's also available.  The center red area is the downtown Parking Ban region. There are often parking announcements of free or cost-reduced parking during weather situations where cars are encouraged not to park anywhere downtown.

Snow routes are specific streets that extend from the downtown area.  These are the main thoroughfares which lead neighborhoods to the Interstate Highway system. Examples are Whalley Avenue, State Street, Dixwell Avenue, Ella Grasso Boulevard, Grand Ave, Quinnipiac Ave, and several others. These are the priority streets, and you can anticipate that they'll be plowed before the neighborhoods are taken care of.

Four Levels of "Snow Game Map" Completed.
2 Neighborhoods After Thoroughfares
After the main areas are cleared, neighborhoods begin to receive more attention. With some preliminary calculations, it seems that 5mph is an acceptable time for a plow to run its operations. Given a series of 5-mile routes, you might say that each route would be easily accomplished in a one-hour period.

If you want to participate, you can add your own series of 5-mile routes for the plows to follow. That way, we as a community can estimate how many plows it takes to completely plow the city, and the number of 5-mile routes required to make this happen. This is not only a way to crowdsource the logistics, it also educates the public as to how this procedure is carried out.

1.  Watch The Video.
Here is a map with some photos of the responses to the plowing on Thursday. You'll find that they're pretty much on par with what you'd expect, after examining the Snow Emergency Routes map provided by City Hall. Very few streets were plowed, beyond the main downtown block; the perimeter of Grove/Tower, Howe, George, and State. At noon, the snow let up and the plows hit the streets and became more visible. During a walk from State Street to downtown, my findings suggest exactly what you'd expect. No real surprises, if you gather information about how the city plows the streets.

1.  Now Click "Play"

Now that you've learned how the game is played, you can run the program.