Town rolls out text alerts for future plowing

In some parts of the United States and Canada, the winter months are harsh. Cold commutes consist of streets are filled with snow, ice or both. These weather conditions can be difficult for drivers who have to drive on unplowed roads or park alongside snow piles.

However, one community in Washington state decided to simplify the issues regarding snowfall and implemented a town-wide text alerts program. Residents who opt in the program will receive up-to-date information on plow routes. This measure is meant to get cars moved to the same side of the street as soon as possible.

"We'd like to have that done within six hours," Street Department Director Mark Serbousek told the Spokesman-Review.

The text messaging service in Spokane tested this program during the 2012 winter season in Browne's Addition, a neighborhood with little off-the-street parking. Within a week of the launch, more than 600 locals opted in the program.

Mayor David Condon's decision to expand the service was a response from a recent snow storm. Two inches of precipitation fell, but Spokane officials documented about 80 car accidents from the time the snow fell until the next morning for everyone's commute.

"It came in, sat longer, and was earlier than what was anticipated," Serbousek added.

When a town has snow crews driving around town 20 hours per day, seven days per week, it can be frustrating to force residents to move their vehicles around the clock. This SMS service only alerts car owners to move their vehicles whenever six inches of snow have fallen, unless they live in hilly neighborhoods—they are required to relocate once two inches are on the streets.

Text messaging is a great way to communicate with a large audience at such short notice. Communities that want to implement a weather-related SMS strategy can receive assistance from Swift SMS Gateway.