Street Trash = Illegal Dumping + Litter

Philadelphia has a street trash problem that is being mislabeled as a litter problem. We all understand litter, the soda bottle, snack food wrapper that is tossed on the sidewalk. Unfortunately we tend to use litter for all  “street trash”, both gross illegal dumping and the extraneous snack food wrapper.

I have started using street trash to label all street-sidewalk-vacant lot-park space debris, including tires, TVs, mattresses, bulky items-furniture, residential trash as well as the pedestrian snack food droppings. All is trash, all has wound up in our common space, hence the term street trash.

Here are several Philadelphia 311 illegal dumping service request photos taken from the 311 OpenDataPhilly website (link) on Monday, February 6, 2017.

We will only have clean streets when we address and begin to control our illegal dumping crisis. Much of what we call litter actually start as bags of residential trash that are placed on a sidewalk by someone unwilling to wait until the next trash day.

Let’s start to call all dumpers by their right name, DUMPERS.  An old mattress or soda bottle tossed on the sidewalk comes from the same thoughtless behavior. We need to go after all dumpers, big and small.

Philadelphia’s Zero Waste & Litter Cabinet (link, link) is a great opportunity for Philadelphia to  begin to control out waste & trash future. It is absolutely critical that we recognize the importance of illegal dumping in litter efforts. We need to tackle both illegal dumping and litter to get our streets to the cleanliness level that we want.

ArcGIS Story Map of LA’s Clean Street Index

LA is using ArcMap, dashcam, GPS and cameras to develop detailed street cleanliness index. Click this link to see an interactive Story Map of this innovative use of GIS to tackle a pressing urban problem.

la_clean_street_index_story_map

Cleanliness Indexes are available by 39,915 street segment and are summarized into operational grids.

Philadelphia, like LA, has a serious street trash problem.  We need to dramatically improve our street cleanliness efforts. Following LA’s Clean Streets Index would be an excellent start for the Mayor’s Zero Waste & Litter Cabinet.

 

 

Why Didn’t TV Dumper Use One of PHL’s 6 Sanitation Convenience Centers?

A vigilant 311 reported submitted this image at 01/05/2017 07:33:19 AM showing a dumped TV at 5800 Kemble Street.

large_rackmultipart20170104-21811-1qre2ng

Lets look at this dump site and the City’s Sanitation Convenience Centers.

san_conv_centers_5800_kemble_dumpThree of the 6 Centers are sjhown on this map along with the TV dump site to show the distance between teh dump site and a proper disposal site.

The Strawberry  Mansion and NW Center are about 6 miles from this TV dump site. The dumper had a choice, he/she could have taken the old TV to one of these stations 6 days of the week, yet chose to dump it on the street corner. Why?

There are 2 main reasons why TVs get dumped on our streets:

  1. Many, if not most, Philadelphians are not aware of the City’s Sanitation Convenience Centers and their acceptance of old TVs and other electronic 6 days  a week as well as mattresses, tires and other typical dump materials..
  2. The Dumper knows about the City’s Centers but simply chose to dump, rather than take the little extra time to bring it to one o fhte Centers.

The City’s San Convenience centers are an excellent program to try and help City residents handle trash between trash collection days.

Here are 4 simple recommendations for how the City can increase use of these Centers and reduce illegal street dumping:

  1. Public Service Announcements by all elected (City, State, Federal) officials in Philadelphia advising their constituents of the location of the nearest Convenience Center, days of operation and list of materials accepted.
  2. All Philadelphia Community Development Corporations and Neighborhood distribute public service announcements to their participants about the city’s Sanitation Convenience Centers.
  3. Mayor Kenney’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet review the success of the 6 centers and assess whether additional centers in high dump areas could help reduce illegal dumping.
  4. Mayor Kenney’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet conduct pilot study to see if a  neighborhood based services can be provided to collect materials from eligible residents and transfer this material to a Convenience Center.  This could help in those situation where resident needs help to get the trash to one of the 6 Centers.

 

Philadelphia’s Illegal Dumping 311 Requests increased 35% from 2015 to 2016

Many Philadelphians say that our streets are littered, we now have the numbers to back up that opinion. Here’s a comparison of 2015 and 2016 311 Illegal Dumping Service Requests City-wide and by Council District. We had 17,384 in 2016, 35% more than we had in 2015. While Illegal Dumping reports went up in all 10 Council Districts in 2016, Districts 2 and 5 saw 65% and 42% increases, respectively.  District 3, on the other hand, only increased 11%.

311_illegal_dump_2015_2016

 

Philadelphia’s 311 Data Shows That Philadelphians Hate Street Trash

Slide show on how we can use Philadelphia’s OpenDataPhilly 311 data to understand and solve our street trash problem.

Making Movie of Philadelphia’s 311 Illegal Dumping Service Requests (Dec 1-14, 2016)

Philadelphia gets tens of thousands of 311 illegal dumping service requests each year.  As shown in previous posts, OpenDataPhilly’s 311 service data can provide key information on Philadelphia’s trash hot spots (here, here).

In this post, I’d like to walk through how I downloaded 311 illegal dump service requests for the first 2 weeks of December, 2016, identified the requests where residents submitted photos, downloaded the dump photos and then made a YouTube video of selected photos by trash type to show the diversity of dumped material in just this 2 week period.

Overview of 311 Data Retrieval and Analysis

Here’s the 7 step process I used to download and process the Philadelphia’s 12/1/16 to 12/14/16 311 service request data:

  1. Download each Illegal Dumping Service Request from OpenDataPhilly using R, an  open source software statistical software system.
  2. Assign Each Service Request to City Council District with point-in-polygon tool available in R
  3. Identify Service Requests that Include Media Url
  4. Download Illegal Dumping Service Request Photos from urls
  5. Manually Review Photos, Organize by type (Tires, Residential trash, furniture, mattresses, etc)
  6. Create video of representative dump photos by trash type
  7. Post video on YouTube

I used free, open source – public access resources, including R, Rsocrata, OpenDataPhilly and YouTube.

Let’s take a look at the resulting video to get a sense for what can be done with on-line 311 data. Here’s a link to the YouTube video:

Philadelphians reported 706 dumping service requests to 311 in the 12/1 to 12/14/16 period.  175 of these dump requests included photos, nearly 25%  of the dump service requests.

I grouped the dump requests into 6 categories based on dominant trash in the photo:

  • Tires
  • Residential Trash
  • Bulk Items, Furniture
  • Mattresses
  • Construction Debris
  • TVs

In previous posts, I’ve geocoded  the dump requests by Council District, neighborhood and street segments to help identify hot spots.

Philadelphia neighborhood groups, City Councilors, concerned residents can use the same 311 data to track neighborhood or Council District conditions.  Please contact me if  you would like more information on how to access Philadelphia’s 311 data to assess problems in your neighborhood.

Philadelphia’s 311 Open Data and City Priorities

Philadelphia has an excellent Open Data program (link) which provides incredible access to important data that can be used by community groups and others to help focus attention on critical issues.

open_data_philly

Let’s see how we can use 311 request data to understand Philadelphia residents priorities.

Step 1: Get the 311 Service Request Data: The City has made it very easy to access the 311 data. This page provides access to near real time details of the City’s 311 service requests. If you scroll down to the detail table you will see the latest 311 service requests, like the image below:
                               (Click image to enlarge)311_sr_table

The 311 data table also includes a link to a resident submitted photo, if provided, as well as the latitude and longitude for mapping and spatial analysis.

Users can download the entire 1 million+ set of records or subset it by user selections by zip code, service request type (illegal dumping, graffiti as examples),  responsible agency or request status (open, closed). You can export the entire data set or subset to a CSV file for your own analysis.

311_export

I’ve downloaded both All Rows and Illegal Dumping Row to work directly with the full data set and the Illegal Dumping data set.

Summarizing City Wide 311 Service Data311_histogram

When you start looking at the service request details, the first thing that you see is that most of the requests are for information, 728,000 out of the 1.1 million requests were for information in the 12/8/14 to 12/2/16 period. This bar chart shows requests like Illegal Dumping are barely visible because of the high volume of info requests.

Let’s see what the work requests look like if we remove the information requests.

311_service_requests_no_info

Now we can see the specific field service requests that Philadelphia residents have made. Maintenance Residential or Commercial, Rubbish/Recycle Collection and Illegal Dumping were the 3 top requests, followed by Abandoned vehicles, Street Defects (potholes!)  and Graffiti Removal.

Illegal Dumping and Vacant Lot Cleanup warrant  special mention because they both deal with trash dumping. Dumping in the public right-of-way is handled by the Streets Department while vacant lot dumping is handled by CLIP, that is why 311 classifies them separately.  The combined Illegal Dumping and Vacant Lot Cleanup requests (42,440) is the 2nd largest non-information service request.

Philadelphia residents are repeatedly asking for trash dumping cleanup services. We need to recognize this priority. Clearly we need to do more to prevent trash dumping, both on City streets and vacant lots.

Philadelphia’s Illegal Dumping Hot Spots

Philadelphia had 29,454 Illegal Dumping service requests (311 – OpenDataPhilly data) in the Jan., 2015 to Nov., 2016 period. Here is the breakdown by City Council District:

illegal_dump_sr_by_cd_col_chrt

Council Districts 1 and 2 have the highest number of Illegal Dumping service requests, followed by Districts 5 and 8. District 10 has the lowest count, less than 10% of Districts 1 and 2.

There are nearly 41,000 street segments in Philadelphia, 71% had no illegal dumping reports, while 46 (0.1%), had 20 or more illegal dumping reports.illegal_dump_sr_by_seg_tbl

These 46 high illegal dumping street segments are mapped by Council District below

phl_311_idsr_hi_segments

These high illegal dumping street segments are clustered in several Council illegal_dump_sr_gte_20_by_seg__by_cd_tblDistrict; Districts 2 and 3 had 14 and 11 hot spot segments,  Districts 7 and 8 had 6 each.

These 46 hot spot segments represent 0.1% of all City street segments and had 5% of all illegal dumping service requests.

Users can download a pdf file of the 46 hot spot segments here.

 

 

Is Philadelphia Winning or Loosing the Street Trash Problem?

Philadelphia has a major illegal dumping problem  that contributes to the

311 Photo District 8: Furniture Dumping

311 Photo District 8: Furniture Dumping

City’s street trash problem. I have written about it in several previous posts (here, here, here). Philadelphia’s TV broadcast stations 6ABC and NBC10 have both reported on the problem.

The City has been fighting street trash for years. Penn Future’s Next Great City identified trash as one of the major priorities in the 2015 mayoral election (link).

So how is Philadelphia doing in our efforts to “clean-up our City”? Good question, unfortunately we do not have a clear, valid answer.

City Illegal Dumping Programs

Philadelphia has several programs to tackle illegal dumping, including the Streets Departments 6 Sanitation Convenience Centers, 311 illegal dumping service request responses and the Community Life Improvement Program’s (CLIP) vacant lot clean-ups.

Let’s take a look at the 311 Illegal Dumping and Vacant Lot Cleanup service requests trends to see how often our citizens report street trash issues.311_11_30_16_trend

The trend does not look good. We clearly have a seasonal trend, with higher number of requests in the summer months and lower 311 calls in cooler months. The 2016 fall numbers are considerably higher than the fall, 2015 call count.

My personal observations of District 8 trash hot spots indicate indicates that as soon as the City cleans up an illegal dump, it is re-trashed. Clean-ups are essential, however, we must increase our prevention efforts if we hope to slow the illegal dumping wave that is filling many of our streets and vacant properties with trash.

Why is Illegal Dumping So Critical to Street Trash Control?

Illegal dumping control is absolutely critical to an effective street trash control. Dumping is so rampant that many City agencies and others avoid proving trash receptacles in highly littered locations because past experience has taught them that trash receptacles are often attract residential and construction trash dumping.

Residential trash dumping does not make sense in a City with “free” weekly residential trash collection. yet we see residential trash across our City.  Residents can bring bulky items to one of the 6 Convenience Centers, yet we see many bulky trash items left along our roads.

I ask the Mayor and City Council to re-assess our street trash programs and see what we need to do to increase dumping prevention efforts, including increased camera and police surveillance in known trash dumping areas.

Mapping Chronic Illegal Dump Sites

District 8 has 4,049 street segments, 33.5% of them had 1 or more 311 Illegal Dumping Service Requests. 29 of these segments had 11 – 43 requests.

These chronic illegal dumping hot spots need enforcement attention. Removing the latest illegal dump just gives the dumper proof that his/her dumping will be handled by the City at no cost to the law breaker.

Click here or on the map image to see how Philadelphia’s 311 OpenDataPhilly files can be used by civic groups, City Councilors and others to identify critical hot spot problems in their neighborhood.

idsr_by_segment