Logan Triangle, like many areas in Philadelphia, suffers from excessive illegal dumping.
At the Logan Civic Association meeting on May 14th, local residents complained about this long term problem and asked for action.
Based on District 8 Trash Task Force meetings, personal investigations and Philadelphia’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet information, I have assembled the attached Logan Triangle Illegal Dumping Action Plan to help focus our efforts to tackling the Logan Triangle and wider dumping crisis.
Key points from this draft plan:
- Six Illegal Dumping Control Actions are available to communities and the City
- Encourage community Philly311 reporting
- Engage Area Block Captains (8 in Logan Triangle vicinity)
- Engage SWEEP officers to assess Logan Triangle situation & make recommendations
- Illegal Dumping, Truck Parking Signs
- Enhanced Barriers (specific recommendations for Logan Triangle provided)
- Surveillance Cameras ( 4 proposed for Logan Triangle)
- Logan Triangle has many specific dumping hot spots. 8 action areas have been identified to begin coordinated community – City efforts. Additional action areas will be added as we progress
- Specific action plans have been developed for each of the initial 8 action areas.
- There are 8 Block Captains in the Triangle vicinity. They could provide valuable insight and leadership to our efforts if the Streets Department can facilitate communication between these Block Captains and the District 8 Trash Task Force.
- SWEEP officers have extensive experience assessing trash sources and corrective actions which can help the community efforts. Can the Streets Department facilitate communication between SWEEP officers and the District 8 Trash Task Force?
- Streets placed dozens of concrete barriers around Logan Triangle to limit access to the open land. This report identifies several locations where dumpers are able to bypass the barriers to dump. Specific recommendations are included to move, realign and/or remove barriers by action area.
- Philly311 has accepted multi-block illegal dumping requests and currently is processing requests for 3 of the 8 action areas in Logan Triangle.
- 4 surveillance camera locations are recommended. Can Streets and Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority expedite camera deployment to these 4 Logan triangle locations?
Here’s a May 8, 2018 trash walk through the N 7th Street part of Logan Triangle. It starts at Roosevelt Boulevard and goes north to W Louden Street.
Philadelphia has taken a major step forward with the recent release of the interactive 2017 Litter Index map (link) and supporting data (link).
In my January, 2017 post, I compared Philadelphia’s earlier litter index to the then recently released LA Street Litter Index. LA had made significant improvements in their index. I am thrilled to report that one year later, Philadelphia has a state-of-the-art litter index that provides litter status data for every street segment in the City.
The new index is based on city block surveys where surveyors assessed the litter situation on a 4 point scale:
- Little to no litter
- Litter, in the amount that can be picked up by one person
- Litter, in the amount that would need a team to clean up
- Litter, requires a large clean effort and/or heavy machinery to remove
Surveyor data included date(s) of survey, litter count for the block as well as a link to field photograph(s).
Users can download the City’s detailed litter survey data at 3 levels of detail:
- Detailed Survey Points – detailed data for each survey point
- Street Segments
- Ward Divisions, aka voting precints
The data is available in CSV files, shapefiles and GeoJSOn files. The best place to start is to look at the Metadata for the point, line and polygon data.
I have started analyzing the 2017 Litter Index Data for Council District 8. These 2 maps show the point survey data and the block – street segment data for Council District 8.
Congratulations to the City’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet for implementing this comprehensive litter measurement system. This data will help community groups, individuals, litter activists and City Departments to focus attention on both city-wide and neighborhood priorities and measure progress as we work together to solve the City’s chronic street trash problem.
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:
- 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.
- 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
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.
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!
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.
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.
I used a series of pivot tables to summaries of the Jan, 2017 illegal dumping requests. Here’s what I found out:
- 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%).
- 66% of illegal dumping requests occurred on sidewalks, followed by 15% on/near vacant lots – buildings.
- 58% of dumping requests occurred at single event sites, 27% at multiple event sites ad 5% at chronic dumping sites.
- Big Belly’s accounted for 5% of Philadelphia illegal dumping service request sites.
- Loose litter accumulation accounted for 5% of Philadelphia’s 311 illegal dumping service requests.
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.
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.