Tag Archives: Illegal Dumpsites

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.

 

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.