The Winter Web App allows municipalities to create comprehensive & customized Winter Planning Documents, with Great Ease & in fraction of the time conventionally required for the same task.
The Winter Web App is a must-have solution for all those individuals overseeing winter operations & logistics within their municipalities
AN EXTERMELYEFFECTIVE TOOL
“The winter web app is an extremely effective tool that allows agencies to easily and quickly create a winter maintenance plan that is comprehensive and state of the art. This tool is a real time saver and a great resource, and i would encourage all agencies involved in winter maintenance to take a good look at it – they will not be disappointed”.
CALLING ALLDIRECTORS SUPERVISORS
The Winter Web App is designed for the Public Works Leaders looking after winter planning & operations of their municipalities. It is Super Simple to Use & yet packed with extremely powerful features.
TRULY DO MORE WITH LESS
The Winter Web App is designed so that you only need to assign one person to operate it, and be done within two to three days.
Just as the Minimum Maintenance Standards (MMS) regulates the level of service for municipal winter operations on Ontario’s roadways, it also identifies the need for municipalities to closely monitor weather throughout the year. Here in the “Great White North”, it is second nature to keep a close eye on weather (through websites, apps, TV reports, etc.), so simply monitoring the weather isn’t a great challenge for municipalities. The actual challenge lies in the municipality having to generate sufficient proof that the weather was indeed monitored at the right times (MMS compliant – at least three times a day in winter, and at least once a day in summer) and by the appropriate staff member(s). Failing to have sufficient documentation of weather monitoring can become the weakest link in lawsuits, which can quickly turn a winning case into a lost cause. Many municipalities typically document their weather monitoring in-house, manually. This was certainly the most cost effective method, until April 3rd, 2017. Because the very next day, on April 4th, 2017, OGRA unleashed a brand-new service that automates the entire weather forecasting and documentation process – making the subscribing municipalities instantly compliant with the Weather Monitoring section of MMS. In addition to immediate MMS compliance, OGRA’s new service (officially called the “Weather Tracker Add-On”) also helps save over 100 hours of municipal time and resources every year.
MMS is very clear in the requirement of municipalities to monitor weather throughout the year (not just winter). In Section 3.1 (Weather Monitoring), MMS stipulates that:
During winter (from October 1 to April 30) the “…Minimum standard is to monitor the weather, both current and forecast to occur in the next 24 hours, once every shift or three times per calendar day, whichever is more frequent, at intervals determined by the municipality…”. And,
During summer (May 1 to September 30), the “…Minimum standard is to monitor the weather, both current and forecast to occur in the next 24 hours, once per calendar day…”
THE IN-HOUSE EFFORT IS NO LONGER ECONOMICAL
Monitoring the weather is the easy part. Documenting it is where the challenge lies. Typically, during the winter season, municipalities carry out the following in-house activities to ensure that they have sufficient weather documentation records:
At a certain time during the shift, a dedicated staff member hops onto a weather website,
He/she either does a screen print of the website and/or saves the PDF on a computer,
He/she then stores the paper/PDF in a physical file or folder,
Dutifully repeats the same tasks at least once per shift or three times a day
Since winter operations is a 24-hour job for at least seven months a year, usually more than one person is responsible for documenting the municipality’s weather. And where more than one person is responsible for the same task, it becomes a mini challenge to make sure that all individuals responsible are synchronized like a well-oiled machine. The Weather Tracker Add-On has been designed from ground up to replace this entire manual effort with consistent, reliable, and automated solutions.
The Weather Tracker Add-On dutifully gets the same, manual job done automatically and accurately. irrespective of whether the documentation is to be done at 12:00pm during the day, or 3:15am at night. Here is how the Weather Tracker accomplishes the task:
At the user’s pre-selected times, Weather Tracker sets the internet servers in motion and captures the precise weather forecast from the pre-selected weather station(s),
It generates a customized PDF forecast, showing the hour-by-hour weather for the next 48 hours,
It emails the PDF to the staff members identified by the municipality,
It saves a copy of the PDF, which is accessible in only a couple of clicks,
It then repeats the same process at the next timeslot selected by the municipality. It can provide up to four (4) custom weather forecasts every day.
An analysis of municipal hours spent doing the repeated, manual exercises will quickly reveal that by using the Weather Tracker, 100+ municipal staff hours can be saved each year. So while the in-house effort of manually documenting weather forecasts made good economic sense before, it is now far more cost effective to let the Weather Tracker be responsible for this activity.
SIMPLE, ONE-TIME SETUP!
The Weather Tracker Add-On lives and breathes inside OGRA’s Winter Web App, and follows the same design philosophy of keeping the user interface very simple. We go out of our way to make sure that not a single dot appears on the screen, unless it is absolutely needed. That same, self-mandated goal can be witnessed throughout the Weather Tracker Add-On, starting with the Setup.
Setting up the Weather Tracker is an easy three-step process:
Select the weather station(s),
2. Select the times when you would like the weather forecasts to be emailed,
3. Select the staff to whom the forecasts should be emailed.
And that’s all it takes to set up the system at your end! Once the set up is complete, the Weather Tracker immediately goes to work for you.
ACCURATE WEATHER DATA
Good weather information sits at the very foundation of the Weather Tracker Add-On. After all, what good is the documentation of a weather forecast if it cannot be relied upon? OGRA itself is not in the business of meteorology, so we spent over eight months searching for the right weather provider. After considering more than a dozen different possibilities, we chose one of the best weather data services in the world, Weather Underground (WU). The service is part of the Weather Channel, which was recently acquired by IBM. WU has access to over 470 weather stations within Ontario alone, and over 250,000 (yes, over a quarter-million) stations across the globe. This means a very reliable weather data for subscribing municipalities, and allows OGRA to rely on the expertise at WU so we can focus our attention on making sure that the required municipal documentation of weather is being carried out as per the requirements of MMS.
COME SEE ALL THE STATIONS NEAR YOU
To see the weather stations closest to you, simply login to the Winter Web App (www.OGRAapps.com), click on Weather Tracker Add-On, and use the “View Available Stations” to view an interactive map (for example the screenshot below shows stations in and around Belleville). We are confident you will come across stations you never even knew were there.
BONUS FEATURES, TIMES THREE!
Had the Weather Tracker Add-On concentrated only on making sure that weather forecasts were being created and delivered on time, it would already have been an astounding success story. But at OGRA, we constantly challenge ourselves to go the extra mile. So, in addition to generating timely forecasts, we’ve managed to add three (3) BONUS FEATURES to the Weather Tracker Add-On subscription:
BONUS FEATURE #1
(THE LIVE GRAPH):
Let’s face it, weather does have a mind of its own and can rapidly change hour-by-hour, even by the minute. To make sure that municipalities have access to the best weather data even between their scheduled forecasts, we have built-in an hour-by-hour graph as a BONUS offering, which is accessible with a single click. The graph is interactive and shows the weather forecast for the next 48-hours. This includes air temperature, air pressure, wind speed and direction, and any expected rain or snow accumulation. With Live Graph, the next 48-hour forecast is always just a click away.
BONUS FEATURE #2
(THE SATELLITE IMAGERY):
Although any forecast beyond the 48-hour window is often less reliable, it is still considered good practice to keep an eye on developing storms. To facilitate long-term weather monitoring, we have also built in access to satellite imageries. Through this feature, the municipality gets a bird’s eye view of nearby storms, which can become crucial to planning your operations response. And just like the Live Graph, the satellite imageries are available with just a couple of clicks within Weather Tracker’s online interface.
BONUS FEATURE #3
(THE “SMART” BUTTON):
This final bonus feature is designed to help raise the overall weather-tracking Best Practices like never before! One of the concerns of public works leaders is the uncertainty of whether their staff is reviewing the weather forecasts in a timely fashion. This has been resolved as part of the Weather Tracker Add-On offering, by introducing the “Smart” READ button. This button is embedded in each forecast email that the Weather Tracker Add-On sends out. When the receiver clicks the button, a timestamp (accurate to the minute) is immediately recorded. The public works lead responsible for maintaining the Weather Tracker Add-On can simply go into the online interface and see the READ timestamps for each of the reports (sample shown below), for each staff member. Should the municipality choose to do so, requirement of clicking the READ button upon receiving forecasts could be made a municipal policy in order to enhance weather-tracking Best Practices within the jurisdiction.
OGRA encourages all Ontario municipalities to record weather forecasts in a timely fashion, and in accordance with the MMS, irrespective of whether they do so manually or through the Weather Tracker Add-On. The following is a quick comparison of how these two documentation methodologies differ in their value offering for typical tasks related to municipal weather interactions:
When Manually Documented
When Using OGRA’s Weather Tracker Add-On
Make sure weather forecasts are tracked as per MMS
At least one municipal staff member per shift should be made specifically responsible to track and document the forecasts
Ensure timely recording of weather as per MMS (at least three times a day)
One-time, easy setup
The Weather Tracker Add-On prepares, delivers, and automatically saves backups of all forecasts
Keep track of Environment Canada advisories
Keep an eye on the Environment Canada website and/or emails and record for documentation
Environment Canada advisories are automatically included in forecasts
Make sure that the weather being recorded is coming from station(s) very close to the municipality
In many cases, weather websites show data that may be coming from the nearest airport, which may or may not be representative of local municipal weather conditions
With over 470 stations, it is very likely that there is a station close to the subscribing municipality, providing far more relevant and accurate weather reporting
What was the weather forecast like on a past day (e.g. on February 27, 2017)?
Depending on how well the manual documentation was done by staff, it could be a lengthy exercise to dig back into old records
A simple, two-click process from within the Weather Tracker Add-On interface. Simply select the date and download the PDF as it was delivered on that day
As a bonus, you can also see all the staff members to whom the report was sent and when/if each of them read it
TRULY DO MORE, WITH LESS
With the never-ending budget cuts and rising public expectations from government entities, municipalities are constantly under pressure to “do more, with less”. Through the Winter Web App, OGRA’s set out to create easy-to-use online solutions in the form of “Add-Ons” that offload some of the repeated (yet critical and time-sensitive) tasks off the shoulders of our member municipalities.
In 2013, we began the Winter Web App by giving municipalities the ability to easily generate their annual winter maintenance plans in less than a week (task that typically takes months, if done manually). Then in 2016, we not only enhanced the content of winter maintenance plan, but we also released the Events Tracking Add-On. Through the Events Tracking Add-On, municipalities can easily document each of the storms and keep close track of what resources went into responding to all storms. And now, in 2017, we have successfully launched the Weather Tracker Add-On, with the intention to help municipalities consistently document weather as per MMS requirements.
“OGRA staff spent two years designing and testing our new Weather Add-On and I could not be more pleased that this innovative and cost effective solution is now available to Winter Web App users…”, said Joe Tiernay (Executive Director, OGRA). “…Not only does the Weather Add-on automatically sends weather reports and forecasts to municipal staff, but it [also] keeps a log and verifies that the weather report was actually read. Imagine how useful this would be if you are to stand in front of a judge and are asked to prove that you were in compliance with MMS”.
At OGRA, we aim to consistently make sure that we are doing all that we can support our member municipalities. And it is immensely heart-warming when our members support our services. According to Joe Reid (Supervisor Road Services, City of Belleville), “The steps to sign staff up to receive the reports was really easy to follow. I think it is great OGRA is looking after its members in this way – providing economical services to ensure we are meeting our obligations to the public, while meeting compliance of MMS Legislation. Also, the cost is about half the price of our current weather provider so we have made the switch [to OGRA’s Weather Tracker Add-On]”.
While recognizing that the notion of “do more, with less” will not likely go away any time soon, we are lucky to be living in times when the power of computers and internet can achieve tasks that were simply impossible to do even six to seven years ago. OGRA fully recognizes the potentials of using innovation and technology to solve day-to-day problems of our member municipalities, which is why we have developed the Winter Web App as an expanding ecosystem with endless possibilities.
The Weather Tracker Add-On has been built from ground up to give member municipalities the opportunity to replace the manual activities associated with daily compliance with MMS’s Weather Monitoring clause. This new OGRA service not only has a great potential of increasing efficiencies in documentation, it also doubles as a tool that encourages Best Practices within the jurisdiction.
 Winter Web App (WWA) was developed by OGRA to help municipalities easily generate annual winter maintenance plans by simply answering questions related to their municipal winter operations. The WWA has grown to be an ecosystem, offering even more functionality – like tracking storm events and now with the added opportunity for municipalities to subscribe to the Weather Tracker Add-On.
As you know, the OGRA|ROMA Combined Conference is ...
ATTENTION Ontario Users: Claim your EXCLUSIVE Gift!
Date posted: February 17, 2015
As you know, the OGRA|ROMA Combined Conference is just around the corner (Feb 22nd to the 25th). At this year’s conference, we have secured EXCLUSIVE gifts only for those Ontario municipalities who have created their user accounts with the Winter Web App! Over 140 municipalities across Ontario are already signed up and eligible to receive the exclusive gift, each!
If you haven’t signed up yet, this is the IDEAL time to do so. Not only you get a great tool in your winter operations/planning arsenal, you now also get a great gift! And trust us, it is absolutely NOT a cheesy gift either! =) If you have a cellphone, it will be something you won’t leave home without! Worth around $40 if you purchase yourself. No it is not a case =) Something much, much better!
OPWA held an excellent, and very relevant workshop...
Winter Web App @ OPWA’s “Worst Winter Ever” Workshop
Date posted: November 13, 2014
OPWA held an excellent, and very relevant workshop: “Worst Winter Ever”. It was attended by public works individuals from across Ontario, and with speakers on several key topics in regards to the record-breaking winter of 2013/2014. OGRA is extremely humbled to have been invited to speak at this great event and let the municipalities know that creating documentation manually is one less thing they have to worry about.
October 23, 2014 RE: Winter is right around the co...
Letter from OGRA Executive Director to all Ontario Public Works
Date posted: October 23, 2014
October 23, 2014
RE: Winter is right around the corner. Are you ready? OGRA can help.
Respected Public Works Friends and Colleagues,
As you assemble your resources for winter planning/deployment, I would like to remind you that Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) has a complementary service aimed at greatly empowering your winter operations. This service, widely known as the “Winter Web App”, is designed to help Ontario municipalities easily create customized and comprehensive winter planning documents for the winter season. Even if you already have written a winter planning document yourself, I would encourage you to come and see what the Winter Web App (www.OGRAapps.com) has to offer.
I can go on and express the importance of properly documenting your winter operations and planning activities, but I am certain you are well aware of why it is critical to have such a document in place. No one better than yourself knows the tremendous amount of work that goes in maintaining our roadways throughout the winter season, so (if you haven’t already done so) please don’t overlook the importance of having an official winter planning document and covering your bases. “If it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen” perhaps sums the value of documentation the best.
The content generated through the Winter Web App is based on Minimum Maintenance Standards (O. Reg. 239/02) and covers a comprehensive set of topics, including: salt management, material and equipment listing, winter preparations, disposal, decommissioning, weather monitoring, facilities and staff, vulnerable areas, level of service policy, etc. Additionally, you can easily create route maps that are attached to your final PDF document. With so much value packed into a single web-based service, it isn’t surprising that one-hundred and seven (107) municipalities across Ontario are already using this service.
As a note to those of us who do not consider themselves as computer-savvy, I am pleased to inform you that the Winter Web App is designed to be extremely simple to use. I am confident that if you can operate a mouse and have browsed the internet, you will be a Winter Web App pro in no time.
The service is absolutely free, which is our way of thanking each of you for being members of OGRA. With OGRA’s Winter Web App service, there has never been a better time to equip your municipality with a comprehensive winter operations and planning document. Click today to see for yourself.
Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) has been awa...
Web App Receives TAC’s Achievement Award for 2014
Date posted: October 1, 2014
Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) has been awarded the Transportation Association of Canada’s (TAC’s) Achievement Award for the Winter Web App. (Woo Hoo!)
TAC identifies that in order to win the award, “…Candidates must have achieved, through innovation and initiative on a particular project or program, positive and measurable improvements of significant and enduring benefit to transportation”. Winter Web App project fulfilled the entire required criterion that the decision-makers had set out for this particular category, and thus won the Award!
It was awarded to Fahad Shuja who has been deeply involved with the Winter Web App project since its inception. The Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) program recognizes leadership, excellence and achievement in all modes and segments of the transport sector. The plaque was awarded after an independent panel of judges representing the air, rail, marine and road modes reviewed all of the nominations, sent in from across Canada.
This is a great achievement for OGRA and an excellent validation of the fact that the Winter Web App is providing one-of-a-kind and unmatched service to the public works sector, across Canada. We are extremely proud of this moment.
While this is a great achievement, OGRA is not planning to stand still, and we hope this is just the beginning of things to come for this one-year old service! They grow up quick, don’t they!
The Web App was presented at the APWA Snow Confere...
Web App Shines at APWA Snow Conference
Date posted: May 6, 2014
The Web App was presented at the APWA Snow Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, to an amazing crowd of public works professionals from across North America. We received a great response and it was an honour representing a truly Canadian product to our friends in the United States.
It was at this event that the Pilot Program for the Web App was announced to those outside of Ontario. Over fifteen regions/municipalities from the United States and other parts of Canada are now piloting the program! We couldn’t be more excited!
START IN 4 EASY STEPS
GET YOUR ID
Your secure User ID and Password will be sent to your email.
Ability to create Maps comes bundled with the Winter Web App. They are super simple to create. Simply click along the road and the App automatically draws the lines in between, snapping them to the roadway. And in case you want to draw where there aren’t roads shown, we have an easy solution for that too!
Class of Colour
Draw Your Salt
And lots more!
Trun on Satellite
WHAT ARE THE USERS SAYING ABOUT THE WINTER WEB APP?
The Winter Web App is an extremely effective tool that allows agencies to easily and quickly create a winter maintenance plan that is comprehensive and state of the art. This tool is a real time saver and a great resource and I would encourage all agencies involved in winter maintenance to take a good look at it – they will not be disappointed.
Dr. Wilf Nixon, Ph.D., P.E.Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iowa
The OGRA Winter Web App is a comprehensive and easy to use tool that standardized our policies into one document. The App saved staff valuable time and resources and provided a quality end product.
Stuart DoyleDirector of Public Works, Town of Saugeen Shores
It was a great experience to work with the staff from OGRA on the Alpha and Beta in the testing/development of winter maintenance program! The program is already an essential part of the Town of Shelburne Public Works Operations and Maintenance tool box, Thanks!!
Scott J. WheeldonDirector of Public Works, Town of Shelburne
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