Howard County will spend $44,000 to launch a new, "cutting-edge" snow plow tracking system in mid-December, replacing one the county has used for more than a decade, County Executive Allan H. Kittleman announced Tuesday.
The county's fleet of Department of Public Works vehicles will be outfitted with 152 automatic vehicle locators designed by AT&T and BSM Technologies. Another 25 "plug-and-play" locators can be installed in contractor vehicles, feeding data to the same system to give the public a better look at snow-removal progress during and after a storm.
The vehicle locators have software that shows whether a truck has its plow to the ground and is spreading chemicals, or both, and sends a snapshot to the system every 10 seconds.
"This new system is infinitely more advanced than the previous software and its real-time display will provide more transparency for our residents during weather emergencies," Kittleman said in a statement.
The cost consists of an initial $32,400 to develop a mobile-friendly website for the system and an annual $12,000 in maintenance and support costs, he said. The county used an existing state contract to save on initial costs and expedite the installation of the system, Kittleman said.
Kittleman noted this summer's devastating flood in Ellicott City and said that officials have been working on an "aggressive timeline" to get the system running by winter.
The county is also installing the locators in 89 vehicles used by the Department of Inspections, Licensing and Permits and the Bureau of Facilities.
Once the program launches, data from the trackers will be available at HowardCountySnowTracker.org.