How Local Government Can Use Big Data to Combat the Polar Vortex

by Adam Roy

Many meteorologists have predicted how horrible the 2014-2015 winter will be, but cities across the country were still surprised by the early onset of the so-called Arctic Blast. Buffalo, NY has received over six feet of snow, parts of Florida went from the 70s to the 30s in one day, and more than 200 million Americans have experienced below freezing temps.

There have been approximately seven deaths reported in Buffalo because of this latest storm, and over 100 people have been stranded on the roads. Communities in the Northeast of the country had to declare states of emergency to get the help they needed.

Snow is a political issue: it shuts down businesses, affects local economies, and disrupts the lives of constituents.The media’s obsessive coverage of the weather and of local government’s response to it adds fuel to the fire. If local leaders want to keep their citizens happy and their cities safe, productive, and open for business, they need to make their snow removal more efficient. Big Data helps us do that.

The snow removal efforts in the City of Boston during the winter of 2013-2014 are an excellent example of how Big Data can make an essential city service smarter, faster, and cheaper. Qlarion developed a snow storm management platform that integrates data from 311 calls, snow plow geo-locators, and the city’s snowplow dispatch center. By using this platform, city leaders were able to better manage snow storm response by seeing, in near real-time, snow removal progress.The Snow Storm Management tool improved the city’s accountability and transparency, as it allowed them to measure their storm response against citizen requests, better allocate resources, and prioritize high-need streets, Snow was cleared more quickly, snow removal costs went down, and there was a significant decrease in citizen complaints.

The Snow Storm Management platform is part of Qlarion’s suite of solutions—Community Center™—which helps local governments make more informed decisions by becoming data-driven organizations. At the heart of our initiative is the belief that the traditional structure of city government – a collection of disparate departments offering one-off services – doesn’t align with how people actually live. In order to be truly effective, city leaders need to look across government departments and identify how they can integrate data to streamline operations according to the real-world experiences of their constituents. By using this type of tool in the snow removal process, cities can increase efficiency, cut costs, and increase community safety.

To find out more about Qlarion’s Snow Management platform, Click Here.

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