New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch on Thursday demonstrated for the public “BladeRunner 2.0,” GPS-powered software that allows sanitation supervisors to track the progress of the city’s thousands of snowplows and salt spreaders.
While New Yorkers can already access a public website, called PlowNYC, that shows how long it’s been since their streets have been plowed, Adams said BladeRunner 2.0 will allow officials to track the streets of all five boroughs in real time, ensuring prompt and equitable service, even amid an “unpredictable” snow season.
“The beauty of this technology is that we’re going to do it in a fair and equitable way,” Adams said. “No more systems of first, second and third tier streets in which different communities receive different levels of services.”
Tisch, formerly New York’s citywide chief information officer, joined Adams to demonstrate the software, which won’t be publicly available. Drawing from mock GPS data — not live feeds from the city’s approximately 3,200 snowplows, 700 salt spreaders and 1,100 other vehicles, as would be used during a real storm — she showed off how neighborhoods marked with red or orange indicated a low percentage of plowed streets and those marked with blue or green had high percentages. A separate map displayed the progress of salt spreaders.
Adams encouraged members of the public to stay home during storms and to use the city’s NotifyNYC mobile app to receive information about emergencies and planned events that could disrupt transportation.
Tisch said even before snow arrives, the city begins preparing. This year, that included stockpiling 700 million pounds of salt, she said.
“Days before the first flakes fall, we are in touch with our meteorological vendors getting the latest forecasts and preparing to deploy resources,” Tisch said.
In addition to tracking neighborhood progress, Tisch said, officials can also use the software to track individual streets and vehicles with a level of detail that wasn’t previously available at the sanitation department’s command center or on supervisors’ mobile devices. She said that her department has recently added 600 additional sanitation workers and purchased nearly $500 million in new trucks.
Tisch added this year will also be the first time the city makes clearing snow from bike lanes a “very meaningful part” of its street cleaning operations.
With its announcement, New York City joins other state and local government agencies preparing for a potentially record-setting storm season. California officials recently told StateScoop they’re readying aerial surveillance cameras and educating the public about how to prepare for and respond to heavy rains.