Imagine the citizens of Calgary being one click away from finding out where city sanding trucks are, and if their primary commuting route was clear.
While not there quite yet, the city’s roads department is currently piloting a project having four of its sanders equipped with GPS, according to transportation spokesperson Sean Somers.
Somers explains the $80,000 venture allows road maintenance to not only see where the sanders have been, but also to have satellite control over the location and quantity of salt and sand delivered on city streets. “What these GPS sanders allow us to do … is disperse the right amount of material in exactly the same place on that route,” said Somers.
Having this control can prevent over-use of material, which could save tax dollars and curb environmental damage, Somers said.
The system also allows the roads maintenance department to see the routes covered, the number of passes and the time taken – all information that may be of interest to the public.
Getting this kind of information to Calgarians is what Ald. Brian Pincott hoped for with a current review on allowing open source data.
“It isn’t just so people have access to see where trucks are — it’s having raw data that citizens can manipulate and use themselves to come up with different things,” said Pincott, acknowledging related privacy issues.
“I’m hoping the open data team can have a look at things like this pilot — can we release (the data)?”
Somers said providing the info online has been explored, but Freedom of Information and Privacy concerns stymied that effort.