Category Archives: Illegal Dumping

Residential Access to Philadelphia’s Sanitation Convenience Centers

Philadelphia has 6 Sanitation Convenience Centers (SCC) that provide residents  safe, free, reliable disposal sites for excess trash and special items like tires and TVs,electronics.

These Centers are a critical resource for the City’s Zero Waste and Litter efforts, however, there are two residential access issues that must be addressed to ensure their potential effectiveness:

  1. Approximately 33% of Philadelphia Housing Units do not own or lease a vehicle, presenting a serious challenge to residents with excess trash. How do they get their excess trash to an SCC?

    This map shows the of % households without a  vehicle by Census Tract. More than 50% of households do not have a vehicle in 71 census tracts.
    Residents how do not have access to a vehicle so that they can not use the City’s Convenience Centers without borrowing or renting a vehicle.
    We may need some type of trash taxi service for those households without access to a vehicle.

  2. For those households with a vehicle, travel times from residents’ home to an SCC and back can present a significant time challenge. The following map shows the estimated one-way travel times areas for 5, 10 and 15 minutes trips.

    I think that a 15-minute one-way travel time (30 minutes round trip) is the upper limit for residents to transport excess trash to a SCC on a regular basis.

Residents access to an SCC is critical for reducing illegal dumping. The City will need to improve access to the SCCs for households without vehicles and those outside the 15-minute travel time zones

 

Residential Neighborhood Trash Dumping

Residential trash dumping is a major source of street trash. This post examines Philly311 data for one south Philadelphia block to shown the chronic nature of residential trash dumping and to demonstrate how Philadelphia can use existing data resources to identify and tackle our trash problem.

S 19th & Hoffman Streets

The vacant lot on the NW corner of S 19th & Hoffman Streets has proven to be a chronic residential trash dumping site. Philly311 has recorded 53 Illegal Dumping Service Requests for this intersection since Dec., 2015, when the City started the current Philly311 system.

This Google StreetView from June, 2011 shows that this intersection is no stranger to illegal dumping. Notice the trash pile on the right side of the image from 6 years ago.

The following 12 photos are some  of the photos submitted to Philly311 by Philadelphia residents between February 7 and April 5, 2017.

Click any photo to start slideshow:

Conclusion

These photos demonstrate that the Hoffman & S 19th Streets area has a longstanding, chronic residential trash dumping problem that has not been effectively addressed.

  • Philly311 recorded and processed illegal dumping service requests for S 19th & Hoffman Streets 53 times
  • Streets Department dispatched crews to remove residential trash dumping multiple times
  • Neither Philly311 or Streets Department recognized the repetitive nature of the S 19th & Hoffman Streets residential trash dumping
  • No assessment of the S 19th & Hoffman Streets trash problem was made
  • No corrective action plan was developed
  • No remedial action was undertaken

My Illegal Dumping Hot Spot Analysis (link) shows that Philadelphia has dozens of residential trash dumping sites like the S 19th & Hoffman Streets site.

Philadelphia has the data, both Philly311 service requests and Streets Department work requests to identify and address residential trash hot spots. Unfortunately, no one is using the existing data to identify and address the residential trash dumping issue. While it is important to clean up trash dump sites, we must add an identification and prevention strategy/capability if we hope to reduce future street trash.

The Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet will be rolling out a new Litter Index database that will help tackle the City’s trash problem. My take-home message is that we need more than data to solve our trash problems, we need management processes to use the data to understand the causes of our trash problems, identify and take corrective actions and measure progress.

We need to assess our current trash collection policies and procedures:

  • Is City-wide once a week trash collection adequate?
  • Are there some neighborhoods that require more frequent trash collection? The S 19th & Hoffman Streets example shows that some areas need more frequent trash pickup.
  • Do we have adequate analytical capabilities in the Streets Department – Phill311 to identify chronic problem areas. The Police Department has an impressive Crime Stats capability that identifies problem areas and supports management efforts to adjust practices as needed. Philly311 and Streets Department need comparable capabilities.

Philadelphia Street Trash – Working Paper

My most recent report on Philadelphia Street Trash includes this hot spot analysis of Philly311 Illegal Dumping Service Requests. You can download the report here.

Using Data to Tackle Philadelphia’s Street Trash Problem

Illegal dumping is a growing problem in Philadelphia (link)!  We need to understand  types – locations – frequency of  dumping to stop it. We have the data, we need better data analysis to effectively manage our trash problem.

Here are 3 charts that demonstrate how we can diagnose our trash dumping problem using January, 2017 311 illegal dumping service requests where citizens submitted photos.

Illegal Dumping Trash Types

jan_2017_type

Illegal Dumping Locations

jan_2017_event_type

Illegal Dumping Trash Events

jan_2017_location

Here’s what we can learn by studying the January, 2017 illegal dumping service requests.

  1. Residential trash (36%) was the most common type of dumping request, followed by tires and construction debris (12% each), mattresses (10%), mix of trash types (9%) and TVs (7%).
  2. 66% of illegal dumping requests  occurred on sidewalks, followed by 15% on/near vacant lots – buildings.
  3. 58% of dumping requests occurred at single event sites, 27% at multiple event sites ad 5% at chronic dumping sites.
  4. Big Belly’s accounted for 5% of Philadelphia illegal dumping service request sites.
  5. Loose litter accumulation accounted for 5% of Philadelphia’s 311 illegal dumping service requests.

 

Using 311 Request Data to Understand Philadelphia’s Street Trash Problem

Philadelphia’s  311 OpenData is an excellent research tool to investigate our street trash problem. Philadelphia has used data to fight crime (link) for a long time, it’s now time to use Philadelphia’s  311 data to fight street trash!

crime_311_data

We have many of the basic tools necessary for implementing a state-of-the-art street trash management system comparable to our crime data system. We need to increase the City’s focus on street trash and integrate our many resources into a concerted program to address this chronic problem.

In this post I want to show how the City’s 311 data system can be used to better understand our street trash problem and identify potential control strategies based on resident provided street trash data.

Analysis of January, 2017 311 Illegal Dumping Service Requests

There were 1,277 illegal dumping service requests in January, 2017 (link). My earlier posts showed that illegal dumping service requests are increasing and that illegal dumping requests are increasing as a portion of all 311 field service requests (link).  What can we learn about the types and locations of trash being dumped?

We can use the photos submitted by 311 users to classify the requests by type of trash, dump site location  and dump situation conditions.  That’s just what I did.

I downloaded the 1,277  January, 2017  illegal dumping service requests from OpenDataPhilly,  selected those requests that had usable photos (302 )  and then classified request by Trash Description, Dump Location  Description, and Dump Site Characteristics. Here is a link to my on-line Google Sheet where you can view the classifications and check out the photos.

jan_2017_google_sheet

Click the Link  field  to view the resident’s submitted image. A new window will pop up showing the actual url with a small arrow . Click the arrow to navigate to the resident’s image.

link_navigation

I used a series of  pivot tables  to summaries of the Jan, 2017 illegal dumping requests. Here’s what I found out:

  1. Residential trash (36%) was the most common type of dumping request, followed by tires and construction debris (12% each), mattresses (10%), mix of trash types (9%) and TVs (7%).
  2. 66% of illegal dumping requests  occurred on sidewalks, followed by 15% on/near vacant lots – buildings.
  3. 58% of dumping requests occurred at single event sites, 27% at multiple event sites ad 5% at chronic dumping sites.
  4. Big Belly’s accounted for 5% of Philadelphia illegal dumping service request sites.
  5. Loose litter accumulation accounted for 5% of Philadelphia’s 311 illegal dumping service requests.

 

Philadelphia’s Rising Illegal Dumping 311 Requests: Update

In my February 2nd post, I showed how Philadelphia’s Illegal Dumping 311 requests have been rising since the City started systematic data collection in 2015 (link).

Philadelphia’s 311 calls and on-line requests have been growing since January, 2015, so it is fair to ask whether  Illegal Dumping requests are increasing as a share of  all 311 service requests.  I will give a quick answer then I will explain how I arrived at the answer for those interested in the details.

Yes, Illegal Dumping is increasing as a percentage of all 311 field service requests, as shown in the chart below.

idsr_percent_all_sr_trend

Since information and directory assistance calls are included in the 311 OpenDataPhilly file, I removed them from the 1.2 million 311 records to determine the identify the field service requests.  I then computed the Illegal Dumping requests as a percentage of the monthly field service requests, as shown above.

The illegal dumping trend is quite clear. Philadelphia residents are submitting more and more illegal dumping requests to 311  each month. The exception was January, 2016. It turns out that we had a 22.4 inch snow storm on January 24th which depressed the number of illegal dumping requests as residents had the pressing challenge of shoveling snow.

This is just a small example of the important information hidden i the City’s 311 raw data. Now that we have a well organized 311 data reporting and tracking system, we need to move forward with a routine analysis of our 311 data to understand trends and patterns.

Philadelphia Police’s Crime & Maps web page  provides an excellent example of how we should use the City’s 311 data to prepare regular management reports for City officials, Council members and residents.

Philadelphia’s Illegal Dumping Continues to Rise

Philadelphia 311 service requests for January, 2017 show that the number of illegal dumping requests continues to rise. The January, 2017 number of 1,277 illegal dumping service requests is 55% higher than the January, 2016 count of 821.

311_illegal_dump_sr_trends_jan_2017_1

This is a not a good stat for hopes of cleaner Philadelphia streets in 2017.   2016 already had a 35% increase in dumping service requests over 2015 (link).

Here is the illegal dumping requests by Council District along with a count of photos submitted as part of 311 service request.

jan_2017_idsr_by_district

28% of the 1,277 illegal dumping service requests included a photo documenting the trash conditions.

I culled the 361 photos to this set of 16 that reflect the street trash problem in Philadelphia in January, 2017.