Boston snowplow locator website goes offline following deluge of Web traffic in public debut

On Friday, with the blizzard bearing down, the city of Boston unveiled a website that allowed curious citizens to track the locations of snowplows all over the city. But the site was taken down hours later following a wave of heavy Web traffic that interfered with the city’s public works monitoring system, a spokeswoman for the mayor said today.

The site had soft runs during prior snow events this season, but Friday was the first time the city promoted the site through social media, said Emilee Ellison, spokeswoman for the office of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, in a short interview this morning.

“It got a ton of traffic and was working for a time,” Ellison said.

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Late this morning, the site was still down, but the city is working to revive the Web page in a way that does not interfere with the public works department’s operations. Similar, but more sophisticated software, has been used by city managers for the past three winters to monitor snowplow drivers’ whereabouts.

The city hopes that when they work the kinks out, the technology can help improve government efficiency.

In the statement, the city said, the system has saved taxpayers $250,000 because it allowed managers to direct the GPS-equipped vehicles to where they were needed most, and by cutting down on “unsubstantiated idle time’’ among public and private snowplow operators.

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