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South Dakota Launches 511 App

Travelers can consult the app for current road conditions, highway closures, construction projects and other incidents that could impact travel.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation launched a free mobile app this week that provides travelers with information on current road conditions, highway closures, construction projects and other incidents potentially affecting travel time and safety.

Screenshot of South Dakota Department of Transportation 511 App
The most recently released version of the 511 app, which provides the same information as the state’s popular SafeTravelUSA website, is available on iOS and Android operating systems.

“The South Dakota 511 mobile application is one more way to help South Dakotans travel safely,” said Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist, in a statement. “Travelers’ safety is our greatest concern, especially during the holiday season.”

The app tracks users on a virtual map of the highway system, and also displays the location of roadside cameras and visuals of more than 50 locations in South Dakota. National Weather Service alerts are available for severe weather, and the SDDOT Twitter site is connected to the site’s main menu. The app also syncs with surrounding states' apps and websites.

Travelers can also subscribe to email and text alerts for no-travel advisories, road closures and reopenings for the specific routes, days of the week and times of the day they need on the SafeTravelUSA website.

The Virginia DOT has been running a similar 511 program since May 2012, where users can look at real-time traffic cameras and estimated travel time on a Google-based interactive map. The map also displays various icons indicating traffic alerts, bridge closures, construction, weather, and roadway speed. Using this information, a driver can make a decision on whether an alternate route would be preferable to reach his or her destination.

“The whole system is tied into roadside times,” VDOT operations and security division administrator Tom Phillips told Government Technology when the app was released. “We’re showing differential travel times between two locations. Some states put that on the Web; we’re the first we know of to put it on a mobile platform. We’ve taken the whole state, and wherever you are your [mobile device] will give you travel times and speeds on the major roads around you.”

Noelle Knell has been the editor of Government Technology magazine for e.Republic since 2015. She has more than two decades of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.