- Associated Press - Thursday, December 14, 2017

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Department of Transportation is allowing residents to track snowplows and watch them at work via webcam.

The department piloted the snowplow tracking program the last few years. It’s now operational statewide.

“People really seem to appreciate it,” said Nick Schirripa, a department spokesman. “It gives us the ability to share not just kind of inside information about how we’re doing and what we do, but it gives people kind of that inside look on their own where plows are and what they’re doing.”

The department’s website features a map of the state with the option to view where the department’s snowplows are active on the roads. The website also notes which snowplows are actively plowing or applying material. Some snowplows will also include a picture of what the driver sees out the front window.

The information on the website updates about every 60 to 90 seconds.

“It’s one piece of the puzzle,” Schirripa said. “Certainly, by no means is it the answer to every question, but it helps form a more clear picture of what’s going on.”

The information on the website also helps the department determine where and when to deploy forces, Schirripa said.

“Monitoring snowplow speeds and material application helps us apply efficient salting practices,” said Melissa Howe, region support engineer for the department. “Maintenance supervisors can also easily adjust shifts based on the timing of a storm so we have plows on the roads precisely when they’re needed, adding people proactively rather than reactively.”

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