Cities are using data to make informed decisions to deliver city services; however, data alone is not enough. Successful data-driven initiatives require clear vision backed by coordinated processes, and smart technologies that can provide city managers with new insights into operational performance. On January 25, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced nine cities earned the What Works Cities Certification for their excellence in data-driven governance to improve quality of life. The nine cities—Boston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Louisville, New Orleans, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC—will each receive expert assistance to accelerate progress. What Works Cities Certification evaluates factors including cities having a dedicated staff responsible for helping departments use data to track progress, contracts being awarded based on past performance, and having key datasets open to the public.
Data-Driven Initiative Starts with a Clear Vision and Realistic Process
Among the nine cities, Los Angeles holds the highest honor with gold-level certification. The other eight cities won silver. One of many data-driven initiatives in Los Angeles is the Clean Streets LA (CSLA) initiative. In 2015, Mayor Eric Garcetti launched the CSLA initiative to replenish funding for city cleanliness services, aiming to have the dirtiest streets cleaned up by 2018.
Los Angeles Sanitation (LASAN) crew members assessed the cleanliness of 42,000 street segments using video and geographic information system tools every quarter. They assign a score based on four criteria: loose litter, bulky items, weeds, and illegal dumping. A street is rated 1 if it is clean, 2 if it requires some cleaning, and 3 if it requires immediate attention.
CSLA Interactive Map
(Source: City of Los Angeles)
After assigning a score, LASAN uses the data to identify where to allocate new garbage bins and where to target the deployment of cleanup crews. Since launching the initiative, the city has deployed over 1,500 garbage bins around the city. In just 1 year, these efforts led to an 82% reduction in streets previously rated as “Not Clean.” To make this data accessible to residents, the open data generated from the CSLA initiative is translated into an interactive map on the GeoHub, the city’s map-based open data portal.
Next Step: Smart Technologies
Cities can take another step forward to improve operational efficiency by leveraging smart technologies to automate data collection and analysis. For example, having achieved the goals of the CSLA, Los Angeles is now exploring avenues to incorporate forecasting and predictive analytics that can predict future deployment of garbage bins.
The City of Baltimore recently announced its move forward with a $15 million project to deploy 4,000 smart garbage bins across the city in an effort to increase the city’s waste collection efficiency. Ecube Labs will provide solar-powered bins equipped with sensors that monitor fill level, and a software suite to plan optimized collection routes and provide daily route information for each truck based on real-time data. Navigant Research expects the global market revenue for this type of smart waste collection technology will reach $223.6 million in 2025.
There is an opportunity for smart technologies to enhance the delivery of municipal waste collection services. And as Los Angeles demonstrated, it is necessary to have a clear vision and coordinated process in place to achieve successful outcomes. Once the goals and resources are defined, technology can accelerate the progress by improving efficiency and opening the door to other integrated solutions.