Following the first substantial, albiet belated, snowfall of the season, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office launched a new page on the city's website Tuesday that provides Chicagoans with a host of smart phone applications and other online resources he hopes will make this winter more manageable.
Directly accessible via ChicagoShovels.org, the website spotlights winter-oriented smart phone applications, including "Twoinch.es," which highlights streets with overnight parking restrictions in effect due to snow levels, and "Was My Car Towed?," which can help drivers track down a relocated vehicle by entering the license plate information.
The page also directs visitors to six applications developed in connection with the city's Apps for Metro Chicago competition that can be especially useful in snowy weather, like ChiText, a notification program, and Taxi Share Chicago.
The website will also host several city-wide initiatives that encourage unified community action. The "Adopt-a-Sidewalk" program, which isn't yet live, will encourage Chicagoans to claim responsibility for shoveling a portion of sidewalk near their residence to balance the workload, according to a press release from the mayor's office. In conjunction with OhSoWe, a resource-sharing site, the website will also connect neighbors with shovels, snow plows and other materials listed as available for borrowing or joint-ownership.
"Winter preparedness is everyone’s responsibility, and when we come together, community by community, block by block, we can help reduce the dangers and health risks that winter weather can bring," Mayor Emanuel said in a statement.
Additionally, a planned "Snow Corps" program will connect volunteers with residents who need assistance preparing for or coping with snowfall, and a "Plow Tracker" will let residents monitor snow plow locations in real time.
The city plans to make the code behind ChicagoShovels.org available to other developers so similar information-sharing platforms can be developed for other communities, according to a release.