GPS trackers now standard equipment on Sioux Falls snow-removal equipment

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — The Sioux Falls Street Department is expanding its use of GPS to track the progress of plows and sanders during this first snowstorm of the season. Devices called Automatic Vehicle Locators give the city a real-time look at the location of sanders and graders making their way down snow-covered streets.

Automatic Vehicle Locators at work.

This is what the citywide snow cleanup looks like when tracking devices called AVL’s ride along with the sanders and plows. A large screen at the Street Department shows the movement of triangles and squares representing all the equipment on city streets.

“It’s full steam ahead, yep,” Sioux Falls Street Operations Manager Dustin Hansen said.

The AVL’s are mounted inside the cabs of the snow equipment allowing the city to quickly dispatch a crew to trouble spots.

“It’s very cool because when citizens call in, with concerns for snow removal, we can just find the closest person, get that phone call out and get the street treated,” Street Logistics Specialist Kristin Lobien said.

The AVL’s can also tell the city how much chemical crews are applying to the streets.

“It increases our efficiency. It improves how much we can get done. Obviously, we’re always looking at ways of decreasing the amount of salt that we’re putting on the street. It’s very expensive to purchase salt,” Hansen said.

The city has been giving a test drive to these AVL’s over the past few winters. But this year, they’re going full-bore and equipping all of their snow-removal equipment with these gizmos.

“This is our maiden voyage with the AVL’s. But we’re always trying to look at new ways to integrate technology and innovation into how we’re doing things as simple as just plowing snow,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

The Street Department says eventually, data provided by the AVL’s could automatically be uploaded onto the city’s website, so the public can track the progress in real-time. Hansen says that could happen within a year.

Right now, the snow-removal information posted on the city’s website has to be updated by-hand.

The AVL’s can even measure the force of impact when plows and sanders are involved in crashes.

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