When you think of the key waste and recycling management insights for which government-owned fleets should be monitoring, which come to mind first?
If you’re like most public works directors, you’re likely thinking of insights around on-time waste and recycling collection, a reduction in missed pickups, and increased savings and revenue for your city. And you would be right. These three areas form the core of what waste and recycling fleets across the country should focus on to keep their customers—the residents of the city in which they’re based—happy about the city’s quality of service and stewardship of their taxpayer dollars.
But what about waste and recycling insights, key data points that are often overlooked in the pursuit towards greater customer service; but that can take your city from good to great when it comes to your ability to serve the greater good of your city?
Cities are required to do more—with less—than ever before. The solution to managing shrinking city budgets is to utilize technology to help your city not only increase its percentage of on-time waste and recycling collection, reduce missed pickups, and increase savings and revenue for your city; but also to use your waste and recycling vehicles (which are likely the only vehicles that go down every street in your city at least once per week) to implement a technology-based, data-driven model for dealing with quality of life issues and creating a more proactive city government.
Let’s take a look at some of these insights:
The first overlooked insight to keep in mind is equity.
As I touched upon above, the waste service vehicle is the only vehicle in the world that goes down every street of a city at least once a week. It doesn’t discriminate by zip code, neighborhood, or any number of other factors. When you utilize technology in your waste and recycling fleet, such as the RUBICONSmartCity™ technology suite, your city will, over time, become grounded in a sense of equity as your waste and recycling fleet is able to collect data, such as the locations of vacant lots, downed power lines, and graffiti that negatively impact quality of life, and log these issues so they can be dealt with in a timely manner.
Efficiency concerns both route efficiency (ensuring your drivers are driving the most efficient routes within your city) as well as the efficiency that comes from ensuring that your fleet of vehicles is operating at peak performance.
Route efficiency is an overlooked waste management insight that can save your city a considerable amount of money over the long term. For example, in Atlanta, Georgia, Rubicon’s smart city software platform identified an opportunity to save the city and its taxpayers money while speeding up their efforts to achieve waste reduction goals. By adjusting the city’s solid waste service schedule from four to five days, decreasing the total amount of trash routes per day, and balancing the number of hours driven among drivers, we helped the city save up to $783,453 annually, while reducing the amount of recyclables going to landfill by 83%.
Rubicon’s mission is to end waste, in all of its forms. Sustainability and the promise of a more circular economy are core parts of this mission, as making our cities cleaner, greener, and more sustainable all starts with what we do with its waste and recycling after it is collected.
By pinpointing specific neighborhoods that have lagging recycling rates, cities can focus on education and enforcement efforts in the most efficient and effective way possible. These sorts of data points can improve a city’s standing in various sustainability and resiliency indices, as well as open up new state and federal grant opportunities.
Remember: Most city residents understand the importance of sustainability and want to do right by the environment; they simply lack the clear information and mechanisms required to do so.
Finally, the fourth overlooked set of insights relates to physical infrastructure and how it impacts our communities. Specifically, this can take the form of identifying road deterioration including potholes, crumbling sidewalks, and cracks in the road.
Looking at potholes specifically, smart city technologies can allow for a city’s waste and recycling haulers to collect and analyze data as they go about their regular trash and recycling collection routes, essentially becoming “roaming data collection centers” that allow a city to flag a pothole and log its coordinates, with this data being uploaded to the cloud for future action by the appropriate city department. The same is true for everything from crumbling sidewalks, cracks in the road, snow buildup, graffiti, and illegal dumping, to name but a few.
Michael Allegretti is Chief Strategy Officer at Rubicon, a software company that provides smart waste and recycling solutions for businesses and governments worldwide. RUBICONSmartCity™ is a smart city technology suite that helps city governments run more efficient, effective, and sustainable operations. A SaaS offering originally designed for waste and recycling fleets, this full-service technology solution can be deployed in almost any fleet to help reduce costs, improve service, and contribute to quality of life. You can contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.