GPS-based snowplow tracking apps hold cities accountable, turn residents into watchdogs

Associated Press

Cities across the country are increasingly making snowplow-tracking data public in free mobile apps.

Chicago and New York introduced apps in 2012. Seattle has one, as do several places in Maryland and Virginia. Boston briefly experimented, too, though their site was so popular it crashed during a February 2013 storm.

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Cities want to show skeptics that plow drivers are out there working hard — and not just in areas home to the wealthy and politically connected.

But average citizens have also scrutinized the sites for slipups.

Thirty-one-year-old Chicago video producer Alexandra Clark says she felt compelled to tweet the mayor's office a photo of her snow-filled street last January after the app said a plow had passed an hour earlier.

Clarks says such initiatives help people hold cities to account.