Towns use technology to guide snow plows

HighTech SnowfightingTinton Falls leads with DPW, police technology

By Larry Higgs
Asbury Park Press
January 2, 2014

Infrared scanners are now used to read road temperatures to determine whether and when to spread road salt during a storm. Global Positioning Systems keep track of the trucks spreading the salt, to deploy them where they are most needed.

But it’s not just snow removal that’s gone digital. Tinton Falls police are the first in Monmouth County to use electronic systems to scan drivers licenses and write tickets.

If the increasing use of technology is the brave new world for borough officials, the reason for doing so is an old one, to reduce costs and increase service to residents by freeing up workers from doing mundane tasks better left to automation.

Tinton Falls Mayor Michael Skudera credits accumulated savings from technology as one of the reasons the borough has been able to cut expenses to help keep the municipal budget to the state mandated two percent cap for increases.

“We don’t do it to be cool or flashy. We do it to add business value: how can we solve business problems with technology?” he said. “We turned it (borough operations) to incorporate technology.”

For example, Tinton Falls now use an infrared scanner to read the temperature of road surfaces to tell public works officials when is the best time to spread salt during winter weather or not to apply it at all. That system was implemented last year. The four infrared “gun” issued to supervisors cost less than $500 to purchase, Skudera said.

“There have been three to four occasions where we haven’t had to apply salt, which has saved tens of thousands of dollars,” said Gary Gebele, director of public works.

During a typical storm, the borough will use 200 to 225 tons of salt to treat all the borough roads, which at $72 a ton, means the the borough is spending $14,000 to $16,000, he said. Added to that is salary and overtime costs, fuel and wear and tear on trucks.

“We tend to know which streets freeze first. … You point it (the infrared gun) at the street,” Gebel said. The infrared gun reads the road temperature, which is different than the air temperature.

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