Tag Archives: Phila Zero Waste & Litter

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

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.

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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.

 

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.

Philadelphia’s Illegal Dumping Continues to Rise

Philadelphia 311 service requests for January, 2017 show that the number of illegal dumping requests continues to rise. The January, 2017 number of 1,277 illegal dumping service requests is 55% higher than the January, 2016 count of 821.

311_illegal_dump_sr_trends_jan_2017_1

This is a not a good stat for hopes of cleaner Philadelphia streets in 2017.   2016 already had a 35% increase in dumping service requests over 2015 (link).

Here is the illegal dumping requests by Council District along with a count of photos submitted as part of 311 service request.

jan_2017_idsr_by_district

28% of the 1,277 illegal dumping service requests included a photo documenting the trash conditions.

I culled the 361 photos to this set of 16 that reflect the street trash problem in Philadelphia in January, 2017.

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.

 

 

LA Cleanliness Index More Effective Than Philadelphia’s Litter Index

Philadelphia has been using a litter index to assess street trash conditions since 2007 (link). Here is the most recent litter index, downloaded from OpenDataPhilly.  The actual dates for the litter survey data is not provided.

phl_litter_index_fall_2016

Philadelphia’s Litter Index provides a 1-4 composite score for 111 trash collection day area in the City. The City’s meta data file states:

The Litter Index is used to compare the relative cleanliness of different areas of the city of Philadelphia. he relative cleanliness of different areas of the city of Philadelphia.

Originally created in 2007, the Litter Index is used to compare the relative cleanliness of different areas of the city. The Litter Index is scored on a 1-4 scale with 1 being minimal litter and 4 being extremely littered.

The City’s Litter Index has a number of shortcomings which limit its usefulness as a City trash hot spot identification and management tool.

  • Data collection is based on relatively large areas, with an average of 2.2 square miles. Seriously trash street segments are masked when the data is averaged over such a large area.
  • Street Litter Index Values for specific areas vary widely from survey to survey, raising concerns about the reliability of the underlying methodology (link).
  • There is no relationship between 311 Illegal Dumping Service Requests and Street Litter Index.

phl_litter_index_311_il_dmp_sr

Los Angeles has developed a Street Cleanliness Index (link) which provides detailed street segment by segment data not available in Philadelphia’s index.

Here is a short video describing how LA used a dashcam, smartphone camera and ArcGIS to score each street segment in LA.

LA  uses assigns a  1 to 3 cleanliness score for Loose Litter, Illegal Dumping, Weeds and Bulky Items as well as a composite score.  Here is an example of the LA Cleanliness Score Map , showing segments with Clean, Somewhat Clean and Not Clean scores.

la_map_snippet

With the LA method, the Not Clean (red) segments standout.  Philadelphia needs to adopt a detailed street litter index score system like LA so that we can pinpoint the badly trash street segments and begin getting our trash problems under control.