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

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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.

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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.

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.