When it comes to signs of disorganization and economic depression, there’s no surer benchmark than an overflowing trash bin – at least to the untrained eye and overflowing trash might just be a sign that a lot of people live in a built-up area, but tourists and visitors won’t know the difference.
By: Travis Sales, Nordsense
If you want to keep tourist dollars coming into your city, you need to optimize your trash pickups.
Is Trash Really Coordinated with Tourism?
Back in the 1970s, when President Gerald Ford told the city of New York to “drop dead,” the area was undergoing multiple economic crises, leaving it nearly bankrupt. Once of the most iconic images of that era was the picture of entire New York city blocks lined end-to-end with black garbage bags piled three deep in some places.
Due to the ongoing crisis, the city of New York stopped issuing payrolls to its sanitation department, resulting in wildcat strikes and work stoppages. Years earlier, in 1969, similar scenes played out due to an epic work stoppage by New York’s sanitation workers.
It was, to put it mildly, not a place that any tourist in their right mind would like to visit.
Today, this image of New York City has been consigned to the history books. The city is once again a tourist mecca, drawing a record 65 million visitors in 2018 – a number that has been steadily increasing for the last nine years. New York City has also continuously improved its waste management policies, seamlessly transporting 11,000 tons of garbage per day to various landfills across the Eastern Seaboard and the Midwest.
New York City is an extreme example of course – simultaneously one of the world’s greatest tourist attractions as well as being one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. Where else does tourism correlate with trash?
Tourists Visit Trash-Free Cities – While Creating Trash Themselves
As it would happen, cities that attract tourists exist within a sort of Catch-22, at least as far as waste management is concerned. Cities need to keep their streets clean in order to attract tourists and keep up their image as clean, safe, and “smart” cities. On the other hand, tourists themselves add an incredible waste management burden.
The long and short of it is that tourists cause waste. Tourists generate almost five million tons of waste every year –14 percent of the entire total. What’s more, tourists burden waste management systems in ways that residents do not.
- Residents throw their trash into designated trash collection bins behind their houses. Tourists throw their trash into municipal waste collection bins on the sidewalk – or just directly onto the street, if they’re rude
- Residents recycle. Tourists only have municipal waste bins available, which are usually trash only. Even if a city offers both trash and recycling bins in public locations, tourists can’t be relied upon to sort their waste
- Residents make up a relatively fixed portion of the population – tourists do not. Seasonal tourism ensures that a region is swamped by outsiders during part of the year, and then barren during the rest – making it difficult for waste management services to adjust. In some rural areas, the number of incoming tourists will dwarf the number of permanent residents
- Lastly, the very act of waste pickup – sending huge trucks down narrow streets to collect waste – can back up traffic and prevent tourists from getting where they need to go.
The problem has gotten so intense that some tourist cities, such as Bergen in Norway, have begun building networks of underground vacuum tubes that lead from municipal waste bins directly to waste management facilities on city outskirts, circumventing the need for garbage trucks.
Here’s the thing: most tourist cities don’t quite have the budget to build vast underground networks, yet they still need to pick up trash in a timely manner, prevent waste buildup, and project the image of a smart city. How can you make this happen?
Unlock Smart Waste Management with Nordsense
Nordsense is designed to help cities transform their ability to pick up and distribute municipal solid waste without radically reimagining civic infrastructure. Trash doesn’t build up and spill out of waste containers, garbage trucks don’t end up blocking traffic in front of tourist attractions, and collection schedules can seamlessly scale to accommodate an influx of visitors.
The secret is a combination of sensors and data. By placing a networked pressure sensor on the bottom of your waste bins, you’ll be able to tell exactly how full your containers are – just by looking at a map. This lets you send out your trucks as soon as your bins start to fill up, preventing spillage. What’s more, it helps you prevent traffic problems. By sending trucks only to bins that are full, you’ll need to make fewer trips in total. Meanwhile, the Nordsense navigation app makes it possible to plan routes that avoid major tourist destinations as much as possible as your trucks wend their way between bins.
In the end, you’ll find that Nordsense dramatically improves your waste pickup ability as a whole. For example, you’ll be able to understand which of your bins are constantly full to overflowing – and which bins are empty. This will let you move your bins – adding bins to high-traffic areas and repositioning bins that are continually empty. The more data you collect, the cleaner – and smarter – your city becomes.
Smart Waste Management from Nordsense – what you need to know. Through artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and internet of things technology, Nordsense software tracks and diagnoses daily waste management workloads, uncovering trends and inefficiencies, the company says. Remote monitoring, intelligent routing and fleet management provide sanitation departments with real-time insights on ideal container placement to prevent bins from overflowing and to course-correct routes to cut down on traffic congestion, minimizing fuel consumption, maintenance costs and carbon footprint.