All Things Considered

The secret to making snowplowing more efficient? Let a computer figure it out

A snow plow drives on an already cleared road.
An Inver Grove Heights city snowplow traverses an already-cleared Blaine Avenue on its way to clear snow from other streets on Feb. 22.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

It's been a busy winter for snowplows — and with this winter seeming to be never-ending, it looks like snowplows Blizzo and Clearopathtra will have plenty more to do.

However, as straightforward as the work of snowplowing may seem, figuring out an efficient route is anything but.

While many cities rely on pen and paper to sort out their routes. Joris Kinable, a senior applied scientist at Amazon who helped Pittsburgh optimize its snowplowing, thinks it’s time cities hand the job over to a computer. With the algorithms he created, Pittsburgh noticeably improved their operations.

To hear the full conversation, click play on the player above.