Tag Archives: Council District 8

Philadelphia Updates, Significantly Improves Street Litter Index

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:

  1. Little to no litter
  2. Litter, in the amount that can be picked up by one person
  3. Litter, in the amount that would need a team to clean up
  4. 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.

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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


Mapping District 8’s 311 Illegal Dumping Service Requests

Philadelphia’s 311 system allows users to submit photos related to their service requests. Click on the map below or (link) to see the 304 photos for District 8 Illegal Dumping Service requests between 12/8/14 and 11/16/16.


You can view details of the Illegal Dumping Service Request by clicking on the black dot symbol for the service request.


By pressing the More info link, you can see the submitted illegal dumping image.


Philadelphia’s Open Data Can Help Tackle City’s Illegal Dumping

Philadelphia has an excellent open data program (link) and a very serious illegal dumping problem (link). I have previously written about how Philadelphia’s 311 open data can be used to pinpoint illegal dumping hot spots (here).

In this post I want to show how local community groups, concerned citizens and City agencies can use readily available city open data to assess illegal dumping in local areas. I’ll use 5 open data sets for this example:

  1. City 311 complaints (Dec., 2014 – Nov., 2016)
  2. Vacant Property Building Indicators (CSV – 11/16/16)
  3. Vacant Property Land Indicators (CSV – 11/16/16)
  4. CLIP Vacant Lot Cleanups (CSV – 2016)
  5. Landcare Program (CSV)

The 311 data file is quite large (over 1 million records)because it includes all City service requests, including information requests. The first step is to extract only those records of interest, in our case Illegal Dumping Service Requests.  I did this with a simple R script.

I use ESRI’s Arcmap 10.4 to do my GIS  work, including clipping to my geographic areas, District 8 and neighborhoods in District 8. Community groups could use a similar approach to subset into CDC areas, Police Districts, Council Districts, Planning District  or census tracts.

Here is a slideshow illegal dumping, CLIP cleanups, LandCare and Vacant Property Indicator Land & Buildings data for each of the 20 neighborhoods in District 8.

Here is a PDF   of the 20 maps.




Philadelphia’s 311 Data Helps Pinpoint District 8 Trash Problem Areas

Philadelphia, like many cities, has a 311 system that lets residents submit service requests for City services. Philadelphia’s OpenDataPhilly provides easy access to the City’s 311 service request data.

The 311 data is an excellent tool for assessing trash issues for several reasons:

  • Service requests include date, address and service request type
  • Latitude & longitude provided to assist in data mapping

I downloaded the OpenData Philly 311 data file (11/16/16 version) to assess how it could be used by neighborhood groups and others to assess trash trends  in their neighborhoods.

The raw data includes 1,127,523 records, a large data set for the period from 12/8/14 to 11/16/16. Since I am interested in trash, I prepared a data subset of just those service requests related to trash, 116,587 records,  10.3% of all the 311 records. I then extracted only those trash requests in District 8, 17,021 to allow me to study District 8 trash issues.

District 8 Trash Photos

Philadelphia’s 311 system allows users to submit photos, a significant advantage when assessing trash conditions.  242 trash photos are included in the District 8 311 trash records, here are a few examples:

District 8 Trash Service Requests

Here’s a summary of District 8’s 17,021 trash service requests by category:

  • Maintenance Residential & Commercial: 5,753
  • Rubbish/ Recyclable Collection:                  3,608
  • Illegal Dumping:                                                   3,420
  • Vacant Lot clean-up:                                            1,667
  • Vacant House:                                                         1,610
  • Sanitation/dumpster violation:                          768
  • Boarding Room House:                                          195

Illegal dumping is the 3rd most frequent 311 trash service request, after Maintenance Residential Commercial and Rubbish/Recyclable Collection calls. Clearly 8 residents are calling the City to report illegal dumping District 8. Neighborhood groups, CDCs and elected officials need to assess how we are handling the trash dumping issue, are we making progress or are we being inundated with a flood of illegal dumping. The 311 data can help us to understand the situation.