Cities Are On the Frontlines in the War on Waste

Earlier this month, Rubicon® announced the launch of our company’s first Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report. If you have yet to download the report I encourage you to do so now to read more about what Rubicon is doing to transform the entire category of waste and recycling.

By 2025, the world’s urban areas will be producing 2.2 billion tons of waste per year. By 2050, nearly 70% of the world’s residents will live in urban areas. Our waste challenge is increasingly an urban challenge, meaning that we can have the greatest chance to create lasting, positive change by working with our partners in city government to end waste, in all of its forms.

This all means that we will see major demands on infrastructure, not to mention the natural environment, in the coming years. Cities need more efficient and circular practices to meet these demands—and we are ready to put our technology into action to help meet these challenges. That begins with our work outfitting the cities of the future with sanitation and recycling systems that are responsive, in real-time, and enabled with smart technologies that help to drive proactive government service.

The term “smart city” has become synonymous with visions of an urban environment redesigned and reimagined with a vast network of interconnected systems of roads embedded with traffic sensors to reduce jams, power grids that both feed electric vehicles and are fed by the portable batteries of those same vehicles when not in use, and systems to track public health indicators in real-time. In the face of the COVID-19 public health pandemic, the need for smarter cities has only become more and more clear to leaders and citizens alike.

Rubicon’s vision of a smart city includes advanced technology to deliver city services proactively, rather than reactively, and now—in the face of this global health pandemic—remotely. Every mayor is ultimately judged at the ballot box on their ability to deliver basic necessities to citizens; necessities such as public safety and education, clean streets, and most importantly for us, getting the trash picked up on time. Yet most cities are always behind, caught in an endless loop of reacting to citizen complaints instead of proactively addressing broader quality of life concerns. At Rubicon, we see a better way.

Rubicon’s Smart City Technology

RUBICONSmartCity™ turns city-owned sanitation and recycling fleets into roaming data collection centers, enabling municipal solid waste fleets to collect valuable data to improve operations and monitor city conditions. And best of all, it can do so with remote operation.

The RUBICONSmartCity technology suite consists of RUBICONX, an in-cab interface, and RUBICONY, a small device that plugs into the diagnostic port within the vehicle. Together, these technologies collect thousands of data points that are transmitted in near real-time back to a web-based manager portal, generating insights and potential improvements.

Municipal drivers use the RUBICONSmartCity suite as they drive their routes. The technology tracks data points such as vehicle location, route completion, and service confirmations for waste and recycling vehicles without the need for radio-frequency identification devices (RFID). Additionally, the technology enables drivers to complete a fully electronic pre- and post-trip inspection for every trip they make. The technology also empowers drivers to relay issues along a given route, simply by tapping a button on the in-cab interface’s app. The list of potential issues includes blocked or overflowing containers, contaminated recycling bins, and illegal bulk waste, among many other possibilities.

Once installed, RUBICONSmartCity also monitors key metrics related to truck condition and driving behavior, including tracking thousands of fault codes, as well as idle time, hard braking, speeding instances, and fuel consumption levels.

RUBICONSmartCity’s National Pilot Partnership Program

At Rubicon, we’re looking for local government partners to pilot our next-generation technology for improving Public Works Departments and their municipal waste and recycling collection fleets, street sweepers, snowplows, and other vehicles.

Over the last three years we have developed AI and machine learning technology to help cities leverage the power and reach of existing city owned assets. We offer our technology to forward-thinking local governments (over 50 to date) for free as part of our national pilot partnership program.

If you have any questions for me or the rest of the Smart City team here at Rubicon, or you would like to explore the possibility of taking part in a free city pilot, reach out to us any time at smartcities@rubicon.com.


Michael Allegretti is Chief Strategy Officer at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.

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