Norfolk, VA, to Turn Garbage Trucks into ‘Fleet of Roaming Data Centers’

The city of Norfolk, Virginia, hopes to improve the sustainability of its municipal solid waste management through the use of technology. The city will deploy a smart city pilot program using technology from Rubicon that will collect data from its more than 60 sanitation vehicles running 90-plus routes per week and offer insights for improvements such as how to optimize routes and confirm service at various locations.

Garbage trucks have the potential to become what Rubicon calls “a fleet of roaming data centers, serving as the eyes and ears of your city.” While traveling through a city, trucks can collect information about neighborhood effects and feed it back to a centralized portal. This centralized system can then inform multiple departments about where service is needed – from identifying potholes, to reporting vacant homes, to testing for air quality or excessive noise pollution, Rubicon says.

Norfolk’s Department of Public Works will use Rubicon’s RubiconSmartCity platform for a six-month pilot. The platform includes a smartphone loaded with the customized Rubicon application, as well as an on-board computer plug-in device, which will be placed in the city’s collection vehicles. An additional set of on-board plug-in devices will be placed in 10 of Norfolk’s supervisory vehicles.

The Rubicon technology will allow for the collection of real time service confirmations, provide GPS vehicle tracking, and enable documentation of any driver issues or the inability to successfully complete a pick-up. The “manager portal” will collect all the data and analytics and provide the city real time route updates, daily reporting, and operational insights.

Rubicon says its technology helps cities “make smarter decisions about waste, recycling and city operations.” The RubiconSmartCity technology has been rolled out in more than 30 cities in the US, including Atlanta, Philadelphia, Santa Fe and Spokane.

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