Wyoming uses technology to help clear streets

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — The City of Wyoming is improving the technology used by is snowplows in the hopes of increasing efficiency and saving money.

Plow drivers in Wyoming’s Public Works Department currently have digital radios enabled with GPS. The department can track location and speed in real time with computers at its headquarters. The assistant director of the department, Scott Zastrow, said Public Works is working to make that information digitally available in all plows.

“The whole idea of this is to give [the drivers] data back so they can make decisions on their own,” Zastrow said. “They can look at it and help the other drivers that they’re working with.”

Zastrow said that sometimes one part of the city may need more help. Real-time data can show the department and drivers where plows are, and where more help may be needed.

Zastrow said it can also help them keep track of when roads were plowed, if there’s any question.

“Last year we utilized [GPS tracking] throughout the winter, and again we probably had a half dozen or a dozen different issues where people would say we hadn’t plowed their street. We would go back [through our data] and show that we had a person in a specific time on that street,” Zastrow said.

The next step is monitoring what trucks are doing, not just where they are.

“If we can tell how much salt we’re putting out, and where we’re putting it, we can start to determine if it’s too much or too little and we can start to adjust that and become more efficient in time,” Zastrow said.

A pilot program that will monitor when plow blades go down and where and when salt is spread is expected to start within a few weeks. If it is successful, the department plans to implement the technology in all of its 18 trucks.

Zastrow said that despite the advancements in technology, he doesn’t believe it will ever outweigh a plow driver’s judgment.

“I don’t think you can take the operator out of it, because operator out in the field is going to see things and feel things that we aren’t going to have here in the office,” said Zastrow. “They’re in the field. They’re going to ultimately make the decision on when to deliver the salt, and where to deliver, or when the plow should be down and when it shouldn’t be down.”

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