Dash cameras to give the world a rare view

Cameras mounted on the windshield of snowplows will automatically relay images back to a website.

When it's snowing outside and you’re trying to decide whether or not to get in the car and go, there are lots of tools you can use to check road conditions and weather. But when the road condition on 511 is listed as “partially covered,” what does that look like? A new tool in the testing phase at the Iowa DOT will let you see still photos of current road conditions from the windshield of a snowplow.

“When we were first exploring the idea of putting cameras in snowplows, we wanted to make sure that this would not add any distraction to our driver that would jeopardize their safety,” said John Hart of the Office of Maintenance. “We explored several options and decided to use an iPhone 4 mounted to the windshield of the snowplow.”

 The first iPhones were installed in snowplows and supervisor’s vehicles in central Iowa in November and December. They are programmed to take still shots every few minutes. The images are geotagged and automatically sent back to a website where they can be viewed by clicking an icon on a map. The images only stay on the site for a limited time.

From-EricHart said, “There is a new website that will initially house the photos. Eventually, the photos may be available on a snowplow map website the Iowa DOT’s geographic information systems staff have been working on for awhile. The snowplow map site has been available for the past year to see various aspects of our operation, including snowplow location, material use, and other data. The camera images could be another layer of data added to this system that has already proven to be very valuable in making decisions that keep our highways safer.”

After the testing is complete in central Iowa, Greenfield said, “We’ll look at modifications that need to be made before we install the cameras in remaining 800 or so vehicles in the rest of our fleet. Expansion is very easy to accomplish if this test proves successful.”

Hart added, “During the testing phase, only Iowa DOT employees will have access to the snowplow map images, but the plan is to expand access to the website to the public if the test is successful.”

While the public does not have access to the dash camera images yet, anyone can view images from stationary roadside cameras from around the state on several Iowa DOT resources. Images are available on, and the Iowa DOT’s snowplow map. To access the snowplow map, log on to Click on "plan ahead" and then "winter driving." The snowplow map is the second option on the winter driving page. 


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