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Tech tools for the 'snowpocalypse'

John D. Sutter
A snow storm has caused travel delays in the northeast United States. But there are some tech tools to help.
A snow storm has caused travel delays in the northeast United States. But there are some tech tools to help.
  • Websites, apps helping snowed-in northeasterners this week
  • A New Jersey mayor uses Twitter to aid struggling resident
  • Others used social media tools to communicate about the storm
  • Winter Weather
  • Twitter Inc.
  • Boston
  • Manhattan

(CNN) -- They won't keep you warm or replace a good pair of snow boots, but a few digital tools have popped up to help people figure out how to respond to a major snowstorm that hit the northeastern United States this week.

Two "snowmageddon" websites, for example, highlight reports from the blizzard and put them on maps of New York and Boston.

Some of the citizen reports, such as a blocked street or a snow-stuck police car in Manhattan, may be useful to local residents.

Others are just for fun.

"Going to be making a snowman in Madison Square Park for my next year holiday cards," one of the site's users wrote. "Got an 'I love NY' T-shirt, top hat and some other cool stuff to decorate him. Feel free to come out and help me build him."

The "snowmageddon" sites were created by PICnet and Non-Profit Soapbox using a crowd-mapping platform called Ushahidi, which has been deployed in the wake of disasters ranging from a Kenyan election crisis to January's earthquake in Haiti.

Those groups created a similar map in February when a snow storm brought Washington to a standstill.

On Tuesday, the sites appeared to be used sparsely, but Ushahidi said the Boston and New York maps together contained more than 100 reports.

At D: All Things Digital, Ina Fried writes that travel-related mobile apps are faring well in the aftermath of the storm, as people look to change and book travel because of canceled flights and icy roads.

"As travelers away from home are searching for the most up-to-date information regarding their itineraries, many of them are depending on mobile websites," Usablenet President Nick Taylor told that blog. Taylor's company works to make travel websites more accessible on mobile phones.

Others used social media tools to communicate about the storm.

"If ur stuck DM me ur #," Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker posted on Twitter on Tuesday, asking stranded citizens to respond with their phone numbers. Booker apparently had been reading snow reports on that micro-blogging site.

"I just doug out ur car. All the best," he messaged one user Tuesday morning.

As Mashable's Brenna Ehrlich notes, Booker has used Twitter during emergency situations before.

"During last winter's blizzard, Booker came to the rescue when Jersey resident Ravie Rave tweeted that her elderly father's walk was in need of shoveling," she writes on that social-media-focused blog, which is a CNN Tech partner.

Did we miss any blizzard-related tech tools? If you're using any other apps or websites to battle the snowstorm, send us a note in the comments section below.


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