ANN ARBOR — The city of Ann Arbor’s automatic vehicle location (AVL) system now has a public-facing Web site for citizens to view the progress of snow plows within an online city map.

Interested users may zoom into the  city snow route map to see the real-time locations and status of current now plow activity — for example, where the plows are right now and what they are doing.

An easy-to-remember link to a range of city winter street maintenance procedures is posted online at The direct link to the AVL snow plow Web page is here.

The public is able to use the online AVL system to see where the snow plow vehicles are deployed in real time during a winter precipitation event. The vehicles are depicted on the map via icons indicating the type of actions underway — when and where a vehicle is actively spreading a salt-sand mix and/or when and where the plow blade is down and pushing snow. Users may hover a cursor over a vehicle icon and get a pop-up box describing the type of truck at work — from large vehicles used to de-ice or plow streets, or a smaller pickup truck, typically used for clearing cul-du-sacs and tight spaces.

The snow plow AVL web page includes a step-by-step guide to using the online AVL system as well as providing additional winter street maintenance information.

By posting the AVL snow plow location and activity information online, the city is providing a 24/7 self-serve option to the public to address the most frequently asked-question, “Where are the street plows right now and what are they doing?” The next most-asked question is “when will my neighborhood street be plowed?” Snow plows actively maintain major streets, which are indicated on the web snow map with dark-colors. Plows generally clear residential street snow when the accumulation is over four inches deep. The plows then typically follow the solid waste collection schedule, starting with the pickup route after the current  collection day in order to avoid knocking over carts already at the curb. The solid waste weekly pickup schedules are posted as a tab on, and specifically at this link.

The snow plow map defines each snow plow route by different colors. The major city streets are outlined in dark colors and the residential streets are shown in lighter hues. The user can zoom in to see map areas in more detail, such as by using the magnifying glasses in the tool bar at the top of the page.

Exactly what the truck is doing is indicated by color coded in-screen icons for each truck. A solid blue icon indicates the truck’s ignition is on. Blue with a green center indicates the truck is spreading salt or sand. An icon with a gray center line indicates the truck’s snowplow is down. A solid black icon indicates the truck’s ignition is off.

The city installed the AVL system in 2011, allowing city staff to more efficiently manage street maintenance responses to ice and snow conditions by tracking the location, conditions, and status of plow systems (e.g., plow blade, spreader) in real time and to create reports of vehicle activities. The AVL system also allows the city to monitor a wide range of truck diagnostics for maintenance, e.g., oil level, tire pressure, speed of travel, and more.

Citizens may also sign up at for free, e-mailed snow emergency alerts provided by the city via the GovDelivery service. Simply click on the red envelope icon at the top of the snow page and provide your e-mail address.


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