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December 07, 2017 05:04 PM

Video Command Center Helps Snowplow Drivers Find Icy Streets

They say someone is always watching you in the winter. No, we're not talking about the guy in the North Pole. Technology is allowing the head of Sioux Falls' snowplows and sanders to better take care of icy streets and keep an eye on you during winter weather. 

On just a few large TV screens, Sioux Falls Street-Utilities Manager Galynn Huber can see a grid of the entire city. 

"This allows us to be way more efficient," Huber said. 

Most people hate seeing snow on their TV, but that's exactly what  Huber is looking for. The screens show multiple  intersections and emergency routes all over Sioux Falls. Traffic cameras from north to south and east to west are making this possible. The cameras can move and zoom. 

"Say we're seeing a problem here with some icing or something like that, so we can actually bring this intersection up and look at it," Huber said.

Seeing which streets are snowy and icy in real time allows Huber to send plows and sanders to a spot that needs attention. 

"For us to sit here and analyze it and take a look at it, we can make good decisions instead of saying, we're getting snow, everybody start putting down salt on the city in the streets," Huber said.

Those decisions could affect the budget. Huber's department spends more than one and a half million dollars on street chemicals every year. By knowing the exact places where cars are sliding, he says that can ultimately help save you money. 

"In the past, we've kind of guessed when it's coming in and then sometimes we put down chemical and then we wouldn't get very much and we weren't very efficient in putting it down," Huber said. 

What about when Huber is away from these screens? Don't worry. He has an app for that. He can pull it up on his phone, and see what's going on from anywhere. 

If the cameras are iced over, they can move and shake to get the ice off. This technology helps Huber see ice and snow, but it's also allowing him to achieve what he's really looking for. 

"Keep the roads as safe and driveable as we can. That's the mission," Huber said. 

These cameras are already installed in the city, and the City's traffic department uses them to monitor the streets. Huber says his department can now use them during the winter. 

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