Washington, DC
Public Safety

Brief Description:

The goal of the project is to identify ways to use DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) personnel and equipment more efficiently as they perform the daily operations of emptying the waste and recycling bins in the BID’s service area.

The project will utilize a combination of the latest sensor technologies, condition reporting by individuals, and big data analysis tools to:
• Document baseline conditions, and
• Optimize timing and frequency of daily service routes, and
• Anticipate the impact major events and activities that regularly occur downtown have upon the daily service routes.


The challenges for the project will include but won’t be limited to:

• Determining which baseline metrics are necessary to maintain in order to track and communicate the benefits of the project.
• Finding a good balance between human input and technical readings from sensors.
• Identifying which vendor provides the best and the most cost effective sonar–based fill level sensor.
• Creating the right motivations and incentives to maintain interest and participation in the micro-reporting

Major Requirements:

1. Information has been collected on the current operations of the BID, compiling details about the routes of the BID personnel, the two pick-up trucks, and the special equipment such as sweepers and gum removal machines. Detailed maps of the service zones as well as the GIS locations of all the waste and recycling bins throughout downtown provide a good base set of information.
2. The BID operations workers, SAM’s, will use the Krumbs micro-reporting APP to document the fill levels and contents of each waste and recycling bin. The documentation will occur each time they visit the bin to pull the bags for collection over a one to two-week period of time. The app will document the location, time, and provide a picture of the contents of the bin and will feed that information into the cloud for analysis.
3. The baseline information provided by the Krumbs APP will then be used to finalize the choices of which bins will be retrofitted to house the deployment of approximately 120 volume detection sonic sensors. The sensors will be installed at locations that see a wide variation in time of use, where they fill rapidly, or where there are very high or low frequency of use patterns. The sensors will be programed to take readings every 15 minutes providing a previously unobtainable picture of how waste is being generated across DowntownDC.
4. The team from Krumbs, has also developed an event-management and execution system, EventShop, that will compile and analyze the real-time sensor data streams and individual micro-reports from BID staff and community members. The EventShop system is designed to learn so that during the course of the pilot it will utilized specific optimization algorithms to improve the quality of the recommendations from EventShop.
5. Once there is several months data for the project we will be able to utilize EventShop at a deeper level. Event Shop will be able to factor in a calendar with details about special events (parades, block parties, farmers markets, and other major activities occurring at venues such as the Verizon Center, Convention Center, or Harmon Center and anticipate how to provide services while so that those activities will not negatively impact personnel routing or our waste removal operations.
6. We will activate the community participation app in partnership with Keep America Beautiful to enable citizens to provide reports during the pilot on locations that could benefit from having a sensor installed. This will enable further refinement of the methodology while identifying ways to scale rapidly and to replicate this model for other services.

Performance Targets/ Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

• Reduce the personnel time spent servicing the bins by >25%
• Reduce the number of bags pulled from bins by >25%
• Reduce the vehicle time spent transferring the materials by >25%
• Reduce the contamination occurring in recycling bins by 10-20% and increase the diversion of recyclables from the waste bins by 10-25%
• Reduce the time of collection from overfilled waste bins by 25-30 %.

Measurement Methods:

1) Identifying bins that don’t need to be pulled daily will reduce the # of bags used, as well as the time spent at each bin.
2) Measurement of the number of miles travelled by the operations fleet on a daily basis will allow the calculation the GHG reductions and fuel consumption reductions achieved.
3) The team will explore the use of video recognition software to identify the rates of contamination in the recycling bins as well as the additional diversion potential possible from the waste bins.
4) The bins will have room for additional sensors to be housed in the lid enclosures. These additional sensors will be used to extend the range and impact of other sensing projects the BID will be partnering to implement in 2016.
5) Collect the time when the waste bins got filled to bin clearance time. This will provide service performance by bin location.


The project will use the open-source coded data aggregation and normalization platform Maalka to pull the various data sets for use by EventShop and any other APPs that are developed to support the project.
The project will use Standards such JSON, Rest API and other data interchange standards allow for interoperation of subsystems in reporting the events of interest from specific applications such as traffic congestion model, traffic routing model, data bases and other data streams.

Replicability, Scalability, and Sustainability:

The open-source nature of the software guarantees a level of replicability that is deepened by the relative ease of data acquisition. The EventShop platform is agnostic in regards to its data sources and could be customized to any desired context easily and the use of cloud architecture to handle the volume of information and analysis makes scaling of the system very achievable.

The servicing of public bins is being done in nine other BIDs in Washington DC, across eight Main Street programs, and by the Department of Public Works all of which would benefit from the time savings that are anticipated.
Removal of waste is the primary service provided by the nearly 2000 members of the International Downtown Association, where the DowntownDC BID is respected as a trend setter.
Economic and environmental sustainability will be evaluated based on cost reduction, reduction in Co2 emission, in traffic congestion and better sorting of recyclables


This project will have impact from an economic point of view in terms of service quality, the cost of basic operations and in making the environment cleaner through GHG reductions.

This effort might also have a significant effect on traffic disruptions.
The project approach, if successful, can be extended to other services performed by BID Operations and EventShop can be inter-linked to co-ordinate across these services leading to much improved levels of service verified by real numbers. For example, this service could be extended to bikers to information on pollution condition for biking and the bikers could report on pollution or garbage can status. We can provide integrative federated incrementally separable and scalable approach.

Demonstration/Deployment Phases:

Phase I Pilot/Demonstration June/July 2016:
Waste management pilot scenarios with people participation and efficient routing and collection – prototype implementation for initial testing.

Phase II Deployment February 2017:
Full blown system implementation and evaluation and plans for adding additional services.

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