Want to Help Dig Out Some Police Cars? Site Crowdsources Snow Cleanup in NYC

Trapped in your house without a snow shovel? Stranded on I-78?

Locked your keys, somehow, in your car—which is sitting in the middle of 60th Street and Second Ave. with the ignition running—like the harried man The Observer encountered last night?

The good snow-maritans of PicNet and Non-Profit Soapbox, which build web sites for non-profits, launched Snowmageddon Cleanup: New York this morning to help.

The site is like a crowdsourced 311. Users post time, location and description of “problems” such as trapped cars or stranded passengers. Then others volunteer to help.

The site was built using Ushahidi, an application that puts data on a map, which was developed to document post-election violence in Kenya in 2008.

Ryan Ozimek of PicNet developed the first Snowmageddon Cleanup site for the snowstorm that hit Washington, D.C. in February earlier this year.

Snowmageddon Cleanup is not being heavily used yet, but so far the site has catalogued an NYPD car stuck in the snow in Union Square, vehicles stuck on Halsey Street and too much blizzard inside the Metropolitan Ave stop on the G train.

The system is good for borrowing a shovel or rescuing a mired ambulance (video below).

It’s hard to tell if the site has resulted in any New York snowmageddon rescues yet–it’s just hatched and there are only about a dozen incident reports. But the D.C. version was pretty active and apparently good for mobilizing teams with snowblowers.

There’s probably not much crowdsourcing could have done for these people, though.

ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries

Want to Help Dig Out Some Police Cars? Site Crowdsources Snow Cleanup in NYC