Monday, February 10, 2014

Weather Response Strategies For Traffic & Parking

Doug Hausladen is the newly appointed Director of Traffic and Parking for the City of New Haven. He has yet to sit still for a moment in his new seat as Traffic and Parking Director, and has taken to the internet to increase help crowdsource information that can help not just his department, but also Public Works, to get the right streets plowed.

In a recent Tweet, he called out to the local internet for help with a "flow of information" experiment:

Nhv.Org met with Dough Hausladen during a busy Tuesday afternoon to discuss some of the options regarding mapping information from the citizens to the government. He told me that the alderpersons seem to prefer communicating by telephone, but that he would rather have a better way to take their information ("Could you plow this street?" for example), and put it into a more manageable database.

Thankfully, Google has made a wide array of free tools and services available for just these types of purposes. Nhv.Org created a page which combines these features so that you, (yes you, #Nhv!) can communicate directly with the Director of Traffic and Parking with regards to requests pertaining to a snowstorm, in a manner which allows Douglas to receive that information in an organized fashion.

A publicly accessible platform for communicating information to government about snow emergencies.
Fill out a form to indicate streets. For better quality of information, also use the customizable map.

[Parking Ban Start/End Times]

The page begins with a form that anyone can fill out, providing their first and last name as well as their email address, and the name of the street that they would like plowed.

Snow Plowing Request Form
Name / Email
Resident or Alderman?
Street you would like plowed
{!-- reports are time-stamped chronologically below}

Add To Custom Map
Another neat feature? You can add to this map while logged into your Google Account (if you have a Gmail, you have one). The custom map features, already built into your account, allow you to place points on a map which people can see. This is great for a community interested in displaying information to public officials in a clear, concise manner. Submitting the form itself will not place a point on the map. You need to learn the steps to put points on the map.

By clicking "Edit" you are able to drop points on the map for everyone to see. It will take you to a page with the option that allows you to edit the map. You can put down points, draw lines, or even insert pictures if you have a URL for an image you would like to insert.

Step One: Draw a Line
Click once to start line, move cursor. Then click twice on the same point to end line.

Step Two: Write Something
Once you have drawn the road that you feel needs plowing, set forth and write something about it in the following format: 

Time of Day (10:30am, for example)
Last Sight of Plow or Unplowed

Another Example would be:

10:00am   Unplowed
5:00pm     No plow since this morning

And with those simple steps, the line that you have drawn, along with the time of day and the status of the street, can be visible to all, including Douglas' office, who helped stem the idea through a conversation in his office. 

This is the forecast for Thursday.
We'll be given a chance to see how much use it gets on Thursday, when a mix of rain, snow and wind are expected to descend upon the area. 

There's no guarantee that people will use the form itself, but at least it's an available option and this is a public announcement, acknowledging that it's a system we all can use; Both the form and the maps are provided for free from Google

It's cold out today, so be especially aware of steps that you can take to avoid frostbite.