By pairing automated vehicle location technology (AVL) with a public website, the State of Pennsylvania has provided the public a new tool for monitoring its roadway operations, just in time for the upcoming snow season.
The state’s 511PA website now displays the locations of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s more than 2,200 snowplow trucks and provides a color-coded map showing when the state’s some 40,000 miles of public road — or 96,000 snow-lane miles — were last plowed.
According to “preliminary data,” the state reports there were 252 crashes resulting in 129 injuries last winter on “snowy, slushy, or ice-covered roadways.” The office of Gov. Tom Wolf reported in its announcement on Oct. 19 the new tool is meant to make transportation more convenient for residents and reduce the number of collisions and injuries.
The tool was made possible by the state’s AVL program, which launched in 2014 as part of Wolf’s Governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency (GO-TIME) initiative, a government operations modernization effort extending across dozens of agencies that the state estimates saved more than $200 million in fiscal 2016-17 alone.
This project was developed out of an approximate $220 million budget for winter operations this year, which is also expected to include the deployment of 4,800 on-the-road workers and an estimated 652,000 tons of salt.
The new tool also provides access to live feeds for more than 850 of the state’s roadway traffic cameras and is available via the web or dedicated Android or Apple apps.
Nationally, transportation departments are a growing beneficiary of increased use of AVL and mapping technology by state government. The State of Utah’s DOT Data Portal was recently featured by StateScoop for being one of the country’s most comprehensive data portals powered by geographic information systems data.