Boston’s been hammered by snow this month— the city got about 15 inches last week and another 3-5 today. In a place like Jamaica Plain, a dense, diverse neighborhood, some business owners, elderly residents and others simply couldn’t get their properties shoveled, which could cost them a fine.
Enter SnowCrew, an online gathering of people willing and able to help their neighbors shovel, powered by the GroundCrew technology platform, which community groups and others can use to rally people with specific skill sets in their area, find out availability and dispatch them to help those in need. (GroundCrew was a presenter at Next American City’s Open Cities conference in November.)
On January 13th, on the hyperlocal website “Neighbors for Neighbors,” where JP residents share news and ideas and organize meetups, “Chief Neighbor” Joseph Porcelli reported that the call for help after last week’s major storm was very successful. His stats for the “pilot test,” which was coordinated largely through text messages and/or iPhone app use:
5 Businesses (Egleston Square) to help owners who could not get to their stores, therefore avoiding fines 4 Crosswalks 3 Elderly neighbors walkways, driveways, and porches 2 Bus stops 2 Vehicles 2 Community maintained parks 1 Injured neighbors walkway and porch Volunteer Breakdown: 53 Neighbors signed up via groundcrew to help 34 Confirmed they were available to help 11 Neighbors were dispatched An unknown number of neighbors went out and shoveled from the map we posted in the SnowCrew group
He also reported that volunteers enjoyed shoveling together, and that more “dispatchers” are needed when the next big storm hits.