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Chicago Shovels

Snow has a special meaning in Chicago because it isn’t just nature, it’s politics on the streets and in City Hall.

A new initiative from the City aims to help Chicago’s pedestrians, drivers, tourists and everyone else connect with the city services and each other to make Chicago work, even in a snow storm. The website Chicago Shovels pulls weather information and apps that use city data created by a collective effort with the help of civic hackers. The video explains how the city services work in snow storms, and makes a pitch for volunteers to help their disabled neighbors, and also why it’s smart to work together and keep sidewalks clear.

The Smart Chicago Collaborative  working with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Code for America Brigade  has put together four apps:

Screenshot 2012-12-21 at 12.21.58 AM

There are a set of useful winter apps to find parking, find your car, find a parking place, and more.

  • Plow Tracker : see City snow plows in real-time
  • Snow Corps: Lend a hand to a neighbor in need
  • Winter apps: Useful apps from Chicago civic hacker developers
  • Adopt-a-sidewalk: Help shovel a sidewalk

While snow storms can fray tempers, coders have added a sense of humor to some of the work they do. Check out ClearStreets, and the Plow Leaderboard to see which plow or plows are making the most passes. The data is tracked by the City, so it is public information, and can be presented to the public in ways like the Plow Leaderboard.

Daniel X. O’Neil writes for the SmartChicago Collaborative that “…in 2011, a  group of people from the Chicago Tribune news apps team  created Ask for help, lend a hand: Blizzard 2011 that  mapped 984 snow help reports for the blizzard of February 1, 2011. In programmer terms, it was a great test case in community building around a weather event.

People interested in civic hacking are encouraged to meet to talk policy, data, and technology at theOpenGovChicago meetup group. and Open Gov Hack Nights at 1871 located inside the Merchandise Mart.

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Posted by on December 21, 2012. Filed under Community, Editor's Choice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.