Boston Real-Time Snowplow Map Overloaded by Requests During Blizzard

The map is still offline as I write this Tuesday morning, but during the height of the recent storm this past weekend, Boston's GPS-fueld map of city plows was pretty slow. Why?

Within a couple of hours of snowfall the site had over a million requests from users. Boston’s total population is 625,000. ...

The blizzard this past weekend that hit Boston hardest, brought with nearly three feet of snow and the first real test (that we are aware of) of a GPS-managed snow plow fleet in a major snowstorm.

Boston has had a private GPS tracking system in place for smaller storms since. This was the first time the public was able to watch the plows move in real-time along with city officials.

The catch is that the same GPS system that populated the dots on the public website map also powered the Department of Public Works operational maps at its command center. The flood of interest from the public was clogging the servers and preventing plow fleet managers from doing their jobs. 

There's clearly some work to do before the next blizzard!

- Transportation Nation


Published Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Written by Adena Schutzberg