Resident Question: Not sure if it's a trick of the parking trade, but I'm wondering why the email alerts I've been getting for two years since buying a home in Somerville didn't come through yesterday for street cleaning on Partridge Ave. Do you really have to sign up every year?
Answer: The Boston Sweeper street sweeping alert service that you've been using for the past two years is a free service provided by Boston.com, the online arm of The Boston Globe. They certainly have no parking tricks to play, as the service is designed to help Boston area residents avoid tickets and the Globe receives no revenues from municipal parking tickets. But technology can be tricky, and it sounds like you were unenrolled from the system accidentally.
The good news is that you can certainly re-enroll in Boston Sweeper, but just this month the City of Somerville introduced its own free Somerville Sweeper alert service. The new automatic email notification system was developed by the City’s IT Department after some residents complained that the long-established Boston Sweeper service was not sufficiently accurate.
Somerville Sweeper was released on April 2, 2012, and subsequent feedback from residents helped the City to complete the street database (a handful of streets were missing). We've also received feedback that the alerts need to include the street and street-side affected because currently if you sign up for alerts for more than one street, it's not clear which street the alert indicates. IT is working to improve this aspect of the service.
So, if you like, please give Somerville Sweeper a try (or sign up for both Boston Sweeper and Somerville Sweeper) and let me know if you have any feedback. To sign up for Somerville Sweeper, go to www.somervillema.gov/sweeper, enter the street you would like an alert for, and click "apply." On the next page, you may then sign up for an alert for that street.