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An effective solid waste collection management system utilizing smartphone sensors

13 April 2022

Saima Mohan

Saima Mohan
R&D Centre, Hitachi India Pvt. Ltd.

Keeping your city clean & clear (CCC)

As nations work to realize the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), efficient waste management which contributes to SDG 11 Target 11.6.1 [1] is still a major challenge for city authorities in many urban and rural areas of both developing and developed countries. Booming economies, increasing population, rapid urbanization, and changing lifestyles have greatly accelerated the rate and thus the volume and type of municipal solid waste (MSW) being generated. On the other hand, uncollected solid waste from households, commercial areas and industries is not only unattractive but unhygienic, and conducive to breeding unhealthy littering habits among inhabitants. But not all waste that is collected is really waste. In a circular economy, “quality waste” is re-used or recycled. On the other hand, municipalities with limited budgets face a dilemma on how to meet citizens’ expectations for regular and timely waste collection from all streets while implementing initiatives to reduce waste and achieve a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable community.

What’s in the bin? Uncollected and under-utilized

In India, a few smart cities have deployed Smart Bins as a solution for real-time monitoring of waste generation and efficient operations, but these have proved to be costly to maintain. Thus, there is still a pressing need for a solution that is financially sustainable, technically feasible and socially and legally acceptable. To find such a solution, smart waste management systems (SWM) need to be transparent and provide a clear understanding of the different factors that impact the operation of waste collection systems, such as, the quantity of waste being generated, vehicle utilization per ward and zone, citizens’ expectations on how the service will be managed on a daily basis, as well as provide the means to reduce operational costs and optimize resources.

Sustainability is all about…

It is against this backdrop that the Hitachi India R&D team decided to develop an innovative and sustainable intelligent data-driven solution for Indian waste management services. Our system aims to resolve the various issues in waste collection, such as monitoring whether or not waste is collected from designated pick-up points, as well as the utilization level of collection vehicles, which are main concerns observed in current operations of SWM. (Figure 1)
(1) Uncollected waste

Figure 1. Concerns in current SWM operations

Figure 1. Concerns in current SWM operations

Our proposed system comprises of monitoring the door-to-door waste collection operations of each waste collection vehicle utilizing smartphones. We conceived of a mobile trip recorder application and developed it to capture the spatial location and accelerometer sensor data in real-time and transmit it via cloud to the system.

Each batch of data received is stored in a data lake and consumed by the analytics platform. This IoT platform includes several engines such as Hitachi’s vehicle weight estimation (VWE) function, pick-up point profiler, real-time situational awareness operator and a route recommendation simulation module which considers the waste forecast values at each pick-up point/route, alerts of previous dates and current fleet operation (Figure 2).

By being able to estimate the weight of collection vehicles in real-time, it also provides a unified display of key services of each vehicle and can generate reports on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.

Figure 2: Hitachi’s solution configuration for Solid Waste Management

Figure 2: Hitachi’s solution configuration for Solid Waste Management

Valuable waste

We carried out a pilot study together with Varanasi Smart City, and based on the operational number provided by Varanasi Smart City, the assessment showed that the simulated route recommendations led to approximately a 20% reduction in distance travelled considering stoppage priority with associated traffic factors, and 30% improvement in collection over time. When we evaluated total cost benefit, we found saving of around 40% of SWM operation costs possible. The next step will be to scale our solution to the full city level and then deploy to other cities.

To find out more, please read the technical details reported in our paper presented at the 2021 International Conference on Smart City and Green Energy [2].

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Varanasi Smart City and Indian Urban Data Exchange (IUDX) team for providing Hitachi with the opportunity to engage through this project (outline available on the IUDX website ). The deployment of the project spanned for 6 months during the pandemic time with endless support provided by ground staff to realize success of this pilot project.

*If you would like to find out more about activities at Hitachi India Research & Development, please visit our website .


References

[1]
Sustainable Development Goals website: Goal 11 targets
[2]
S. Mohan, R. Rakesh, P. Verma and Y. Suzuki, "An Effective Solid Waste Management Collection System Utilizing Smartphone Sensors ," 2021 International Conference on Smart City and Green Energy (ICSCGE), 2021, pp. 52-56, doi: 10.1109/ICSCGE53744.2021.9654399.