Chicago’s New ‘Snow Portal’ Is Hot (VIDEO)

The city’s new website for snow information includes fresh features and open code.

by / January 3, 2012
John Tolva, CTO, Chicago. Photo by David Kidd Photo by David Kidd

It may be frigid outside, but Chicago officials are hoping the city’s new website for snow information is the hottest around.

As other localities have done, features a real-time map tracker that plots the location of snowplows, preparedness apps for snow safety and readiness, weather reports and 311 access.

But the site also includes some fresh features. One is the website’s inclusion of a beta program called Adopt-a-Sidewalk, which will allow citizens, on an interactive map, to claim snow-shoveling duties on a stretch of sidewalk and share equipment like shovels and blowers with neighbors.

“Another key feature of this Adopt-a-Sidewalk tool is the social sharing elements that are built right in,” said Kevin Hauswirth, the city’s social media director. “So when you go and claim that sidewalk in front of your house, you can instantly tell all your friends on Facebook that you got this sidewalk, you’re keeping it clean and encourage them to do the same.”

Another innovation is that people can also sign up through the website to become part of the Snow Corps, volunteers who will remove snow for seniors and disabled residents.

“[The website] really is focused around shoveling — both what the public does and then what the city does,” said Chicago CTO John Tolva in an online video announcing the new website on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Chicago is making some of the code for available to other developers for use in their own communities.

The city posted a three-minute video with details on all the website’s new features:

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