SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Officials of a northern Indiana city are trying out iPads to help them collect leaves before they're buried by winter's ice and snow.

Crews from South Bend's street department recently began collecting leaves through the "ReLEAF" program, the South Bend Tribune reported . Crews have so far collected leaves from more than 1,700 homes over a four-day period.

The department has mounted iPads on the back of 17 trucks that are equipped with leaf vacuums. Workers will be able to communicate with crews through the iPad when they scout ahead and identify locations where residents have raked leaves for pickup.

Scouts use the city's geographic information system while scouting areas and previously used radios or cellphones to relay new locations.

Crews can record if the leaves were picked up on the iPad or list reasons for not picking up leaf piles, such as obstacles in the way or other items mixed into the pile.

Foremen will photograph uncollected leaf piles, record the reason they weren't collected and give the information to the city's 311 operators. Operators will then be able to tell residents why their leaves weren't picked up.

The data will show which areas get more leaves and help the department adjust their schedules and routes to be more efficient, said Coby Deal, a street department foreman.

"It's been a learning curve for all of us with the technology base of it but we're able to track what's going on on a daily basis," he said.

Crews will make a second trip to an area about three weeks after their initial visit.

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com