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Less Beep, More Woosh: Piloting New Back-up Alarms on Snow Vehicles

December 27, 2017
Feature Stories

If you have lived through an Ottawa winter, you are familiar with City snow vehicles working hard to clear our roads and sidewalks after a fresh dusting of the white stuff.

Often we hear these giant working machines long before we see them coming, especially in the middle of the night. Scraping, salting and shovelling their way through our city, the beeping sound is a give-away that one is nearby.

A new sound hits the streets

The City of Ottawa is piloting a new back-up alarm for the 2018 snow season. By mid-January, 62 vehicles – including sidewalk scrapers and large commercial snow trucks - will emit a different back-up sound. Take a listen. Rather than a beep, the new broadband alarms will emit a static woosh.

What is the purpose of the pilot program?

We are keen to improve City services and address resident feedback. The new back-up sound will emit a concentrated noise behind the vehicle, and will be less disruptive to the community. The back-up volume will also increase or decrease, depending on other nearby environmental sounds. This is good news for residents, particularly during overnight clearing efforts.

Why do trucks need back-up alarms?

Resident safety is the City’s number one priority, and the back-up alarm is the greatest tool to alert residents to stay out of the trucks’ path.

How many vehicles will get the new broadband back-up alarm?

The pilot program will see 62 vehicles equipped with a broadband back-up alarm as part of the pilot. In total, the City owns 302 snow removal machines and receives additional support from local contractors.

Where will I hear the broadband back-up alarms?

The 62 vehicles equipped with the new broadband back-up alarms will work primarily in the downtown core.


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