Mayor's office launches ChicagoShovels.org

January 3, 2012 9:49:05 AM PST
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has launched a new website to empower Chicagoans to participate in winter preparedness efforts.

ChicagoShovels.org Leverages Social Media and New Technology to Connect Neighbors, Encourage Chicagoans to "Adopt-a-Sidewalk," and Track City Snow Plows in Real-Time.

Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched www.ChicagoShovels.org, a new, interactive online resource that helps engage Chicagoans engage and participate in critical winter-preparedness efforts. The new site will include an "Adopt-a-Sidewalk" shoveling initiative, a volunteer "Snow Corps" program, and a real-time "Plow Tracker" that allows residents to monitor the progress of the City's snow plows.

"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," said Mayor Emanuel. "ChicagoShovels.org is an important resource that not only informs Chicagoans about how they can help their neighbors, but allows them to see the City's snow program in action during severe weather."

ChicagoShovels.org brings together City and public resources to help residents and business owners navigate winter and snow-related issues. The portal provides a platform for residents and businesses to organize and participate in neighborhood-level activities and new tools that can help make winter weather more manageable. The Adopt-a-Sidewalk tool is being launched in Beta to allow for user feedback that will help continually make improvements to the technology.

"ChicagoShovels.org uses innovative technology and social media to help Chicagoans connect and work together to make winter weather less of a burden," said Chicago's Chief Technology Officer John Tolva. The portal will feature several key elements:

- Adopt-a-Sidewalk Program: This web app allows neighbors and businesses to connect with each other to help shovel sidewalks and offers a platform for sharing resources. Users "adopt-a-sidewalk" near their homes or business by "claiming" it on an interactive map. Chicagoans will be able to see which sidewalks are claimed and have an option to connect with their neighbors to help keep their sidewalks clear. Users can also "share" various snow items. This portion of the portal will be powered by www.OhSoWe.com, a site that facilitates the sharing of resources such as shovels and snow blowers.

- Real-time Snow Plow Tracker: During major snow cleanup efforts, the City will activate the real-time "Plow Tracker" map, allowing the public to track the progress of City snow plows. This tool can help residents and visitors plan around snow events and makes the City's efforts more transparent.

- Volunteer "Snow Corps": Snow Corps is a new program that connects volunteers with residents in need of snow removal ? such as seniors and residents with disabilities. Groups and individuals can volunteer to help those in need by signing up using an online form. The City's Chief Service Officer, Jenne' Myers, and her team will connect them with nearby residents.

- New Winter Readiness Apps: Chicago web and app developers have leveraged the City's open data to build apps that help the public weather winter storms. Twoinch.es informs and alerts drivers of winter parking bans. WasMyCarTowed.com uses the City's towed and relocated vehicle data to help people locate their vehicles.

- City Resource Links: With just one click, Chicagoans can submit an online 311 request, view press releases, sign up for Notify Chicago alerts, watch educational videos, follow the Mayor's Office on Twitter, and find answers to frequently asked questions. The City is also making the final code for ChicagoShovels.org available to other developers interested in building on the technology for use in their own communities. Adopt-a-Side was built by the City leveraging resources from private partners like OhSoWe and Code for America.


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