Those who live and work in Minneapolis can already learn about the city's snow emergencies and subsequent parking restrictions via text messages, e-mail alerts, automated phone calls, social media sites, and various other outlets.
Now, the city is alerting people in a bigger way that will be harder to miss-through 12 digital billboards around town.
"With these digital billboards we have just about every method of reaching people except for skywriting or carrier pigeons," Minneapolis City Councilwoman Sandy Colvin Roy, who chairs the transportation and public works committee, said in a statement. "Our snow emergency Twitter account is the eighth-most followed for a local government in the nation. When it comes to creative communication, Minneapolis excels."
The city partnered with global outdoor advertising company Clear Channel Outdoor to launch the new alert system, which will be used for the first time this winter.
Clear Channel Outdoor operates numerous digital billboards in Minneapolis. After a snow emergency is declared, regular ads will be replaced with bright red alerts informing passers-by about the snow emergency and urging them to call a city hotline to find out where they are permitted to park. (Vehicles parked in off-limits areas are ticketed and towed.)
Clear Channel Outdoor is providing the messages at no cost as a public service-and even during times of non-snow emergencies, messages encouraging people to sign up for alerts will be part of the regular ad rotation.
Clear Channel Outdoor Minneapolis/St. Paul Branch President Susan Adams Loyd said in a statement that the billboards "will be seen by more than 1 million people throughout the community each day during those designated snow emergencies."
Last winter, the city declared a record eight snow emergencies, during which 6,690 vehicles were towed.