1st Ward Debuts Free Street Cleaning Text Alerts
Drivers Get Warnings Night Before, Morning Of, To Move Car
First ward Chicago alderman Proco Joe Moreno may have been in office only four months, but he’s already ahead of his aldermanic colleagues when it comes to technology.
Just a few days ago, Moreno’s office debuted a new text alert system to warn constituents when street cleaning is scheduled for their block, so they can remember to move their cars and avoid tickets.
Residents of the 1st Ward can use their cell phone to sign up for this free service by texting a specific code number that reflects their geographic position on a map. The night before and the morning before street sweepers hit your street, you’ll get a text message reminding you to move your car.
The idea came out of the frustration of the typical complaint of parking tickets for street cleaning that constantly flow into aldermanic ward offices all across the city.
“In this difficult economic time, I’m always looking for ways to help reduce the cost of living in Chicago and the amount of people coming into my office with parking tickets gave me this idea,” Moreno explained in a press release.
“This is a great way to save people money and keep our streets clean,” ehoes Ald. Moreno’s Director of Communications Matt Bailey. “It’s been a very positive reaction so far to the idea. It’s a win-win-win really.”
E-mail alert systems for street cleaning already exist in the 1st ward and the 43rd ward, but Moreno thinks the text messaging will work better for 1st ward residents. “This reminder will go straight to people’s phones, straight into their pockets,” Moreno said of the service that will be operational just in time for the August street cleaning schedule.
This new text message system was originated in Columbus, OH last year by entrepreneurs attending Ohio State University who just wanted to keep their friends from getting ticketed and towed for street cleaning. This resulted in in their technology application called Anti-Tow.
“Anti-Tow solves a critical problem in a really elegant way,” says Vitaliy Levit, a founder of Recess Mobile who began working with the 1st Ward staff on this back in March. Levit’s company is currently working out a Spanish language version of the software for the ward’s Spanish-speaking constituents which should be ready quite soon.
“It’s great, really straight forward,” says Glen Marker, a volunteer in Moreno’s office and one of the people who tested the new system. “The most challenging part is to determine what street sweeping zone you’re in. But there’s a Google map to help you with that. When you sign up, you get a text response back immediately. But there have been no issues.”
Moreno, who Mayor Daley appointed to take over Manny Flores’ old seat, is already getting calls from aldermanic colleagues from around the city interested in adopting the technology for their wards.
“At this point, the system is fairly set up to add other wards,” said Levit who was excited about the prospect of expanding his technology to more city wards. “It’s really very simple.”
1st ward drivers interested in the service should check out Anti-Tow’s Chicago website.
If you live in one of Chicago’s other 50 wards and want this type of text messaging service, two pay services already exist to help you.
One, called StopTheBroomNow.com charges $8 for the year and warns you 48 and 24 hours before street cleaning.
StopParkingTickets.com charges $9.99 per year and will warn you the night before and the morning before street cleaning commences.