After a spring of frustration with West Memphis city trash service, sanitation department management made a move to go with smart technology.

At it’s July 3 meeting, the City of West Memphis announced a new partnership with Rubicon aimed at helping West Memphis improve its sanitation efficiency.

Starting later this summer, the city will test the RUBICONSmartCity platform, which includes a mobile app, a plug-in device on board each trash and garbage truck and equips administrators with desktop vendor software. The technology will allow the city to track key metrics, including landfill trips and recycling rates. The technology aimed to provide better services and an improved quality of life for citizens according to the company.

“The RUBICONSmartCity platform will enable the City of West Memphis to enhance its waste and recycling offerings and outcomes, both in terms of sustainability and customer service,” said Michael Allegretti, SVP of Policy & Strategic Initiatives for Rubicon.

The city will test the system for free for the last half of the year and in turn, provide feedback to the company. The program can save time by suggesting more efficient routes to improve the slow service city trash customers experienced this spring.

“This will be a great tool to improve service,” said Public Works Chairwoman Ramona Taylor. “Most big private companies are using GPS routing.”

City Engineer Amanda Hicks shared trash truck performance statistics at the July Public Works Commission meeting. The city was hampered during the spring with not enough available drivers to staff the trucks plus vehicle downtime. All four of the city claw trucks ran just two days in March, six days in April, four days in May, and nine days in June.

Trash, debris and tree limb tonnage weighed less this year than last in two head to head monthly comparisons. The April and May 2017 trash haul outpaced the same month this year by 234 tons. Hicks said more drivers had been hired, and cross training sanitation workers improved the staffing status of the department and results moving forward. The last week in June showed marked improvement.

“Trash service has picked up significantly,” said Hicks. “We have done training with new employees putting them on various trucks. We did the whole city in one week last week.

Everything is rolling as it should right now. We are still looking for drivers and pullers; looking to expand our department.”

Mayor Bill Johnson acknowledged the recent strides made at the sanitation department and looked forward to further improvements by testing the new software.

“We’re excited to have this type of technology being tested on our City’s fleet,” said Johnson. “We believe it will help provide a safer more reliable waste service to our residents and employees.”

Smartphones loaded with the Rubicon hauler mobile app, as well as onboard computer plug-in devices, will be placed in the City of West Memphis Department of Public Work’s fleet of residential waste and recycling vehicles. The City currently has 13 trucks that service approximately 8,500 locations.

With the mobile app and plug-in device, the Department of Public Works will be able to take and organize pictures, flag locations, dispatch alerts and also provide real-time GPS monitoring of each vehicle.

The technology will also provide West Memphis with comprehensive planning data, most notably by enabling real-time, transparent information on current landfill diversion and recycling rates.

Should the city buy into the program at the end of the free pilot test period, annual cost projections amounted to $70,000 to $90,000 for ongoing support services depending on the level of equipment options selected.