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EDITORIAL: Where is ‘Where is my Plow’?

It makes sense in a province like this one, at least this time of year, that residents are concerned with when they’ll be able to escape their driveways — or, perhaps more likely, when they’ll have to go out re-shovel the end of it after the plow passes by to clear their street.

That’s why a story out of St. John’s that ran in this paper on Monday was intriguing, as much for an error it contained as for the capital city’s not-so-new technology.

The City of St. John’s, as it turns out, has been using an automated system on its website to track the movements of its snowplows around to keep municipal officials and residents informed about when they might see some relief from snow-covered roads. Only problem: It’s been around for 14 years and most people in that city don’t use it or know about it.

As Monday’s story mentioned, the City of Corner Brook employed (past tense) a similar system to track its plows ... 10 years ago. Mayor Charles Pender pointed out Monday that the system here hasn’t been in use for several years.

St. John’s has seen renewed interest in the “Where is my Plow?” application, but most of that interest is coming from other provinces like Quebec. Some cities like Montreal have expressed an interest in setting up their own online plow finders.

All this renewed hype about where our snow is and isn’t currently being cleared begs the question of whether Corner Brook might consider relaunching its version of the application.

Sure, you’ll say, another cost to the taxpayers of the city.

But considering that we live in a city with a lot of technologically savvy residents, the know-how to make a “Where is my Plow part 2” happen could come on the cheap.

Presumably the infrastructure was already in place to make this happen once, albeit 10 years ago now. But could a bit of minor tweaking and tech upgrades make this work just as good as new? That’s a question the city would have to answer, but it could be worth exploring the possibility.

A GPS map for city plows could be even more beneficial — some may say priceless — with the element of keeping the plow operators honest, in a sense.

While you’re sitting at home, waiting ‘til your road is cleared so you can go get your morning cup of coffee, wouldn’t it be nice to know the tractor that could be plowing that road hasn’t been sitting at the corner café for the past two hours?

That’s not to say the city is falling down on the job of snow clearing. It’s a difficult and time consuming task but, let’s face it, it’s their job and they know the snow is coming every year.

With a bit of know-how and some watchful residents, “Where is my Plow?” could turn become “Where’d the snow go?”

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