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Wayne County Offers Snowplow’s-Eye View Of Road Conditions

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A screen shot of the compass.waynecounty.com Web site, featuring nearly live video from a snowplow on the road.

A screen shot of the compass.waynecounty.com Web site, featuring nearly live video from a snowplow on the road.

ROMULUS (WWJ) – Motorists driving in Wayne County this winter will be able to get a snowplow-driver’s-eye view of road conditions.

For that matter, so will Web surfers anywhere in the world.

County officials Tuesday unveiled a new online system called Compass, which gives residents and commuters a look at exactly where 149 of the county’s snowplow trucks are, where they’re going, and where they’ve been the past eight hours.

In addition, 18 of the snowplow trucks have been equipped with video cameras  that provide a near-real-time view of road conditions — with about a two-minute delay,

The Web site is http://compass.waynecounty.com.

“One of our most visible services is the plowing of roads, and whether we like it or not snow and ice is part of all of our lives around here,” County Executive Bob Ficano said. “DPS crews clear hundreds of miles of expressways and primary roads every winter and do an outstanding job. Compass is a system that allows the public to view and plan out their commute, to see what roads have been plowed and projections of where the plows are going to go.”

The system also offers internal benefits for managing the fleet, according to Robert Conrad, director of the Wayne County Division of Roads.

“We can see whether the plow is down, whether the wing plow is down, and the rate at which salt is being applied,” he said.

The Compass user interface was designed by Wayne County’s IT department, which pulled together data from a variety of sources, including GPS location sensors on the trucks, cell phone connections to the in-snowplow cameras, Michigan Department of Transportation traffic cameras and traffic volume reports, and weather radar.

All that information is displayed on a Google map that viewers can zoom in and out.

Conrad said the new Interfleet automatic vehicle locator software that made the system possible cost the county $149,000 and replaced an aging system.

“Compass was something we were hoping we could find commercially but we didn’t, so we assembled it internally,” said Zayd Alleban of the county’s Department of Technology.

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