Given the growing urban population and increasing shortages in service delivery, smart cities are incorporating technologies such as smart bins and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in their day-to-day operations in an attempt to make solid waste management more efficient. These technologies are useful in streamlining the waste collection process. The use of wireless communication systems to ensure end-to-end tracking of waste is another important step taken by a number of urban local bodies (ULBs) to ensure efficient waste management.
A smart solution being incorporated widely by ULBs is the deployment of smart bins. Antariksh Waste Ventures Private Limited, a start-up incubated by the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, has developed an internet of things (IoT)-enabled smart bin system called Airbins. Each of these bins has a GPS-enabled sensor that sends out a signal to officials at the waste control monitoring room of the relevant contractor/corporation once the bin is filled to the brim with garbage. This ensures timely clearance and enables on-demand clearance requests from end users. Moreover, geotagging all garbage bins and collection points helps to keep a close check on the collection process.
The Chennai Municipal Corporation is switching to a smart bin system, whereby sensors are being installed in garbage bins at public places to track the quantity of garbage being dumped in them. The sensors transmit the data in real time through wireless networks. Five Airbins devices have been deployed on regular dustbins at Thiruvanmiyur Beach (Valmiki Nagar), Chennai, on a trial basis. A similar initiative has been taken by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation. It has installed nearly 150 smart bins in the city. The New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) has also announced plans to install artificial intelligence-based sensor-fixed dustbins across New Town. These bins will prevent the overflowing of waste once their capacity is reached. As with other smart bins, each of these bins will have an ultrasonic sensor, and the lid will close once the waste reaches the optimum level inside the bin. The control room of the relevant authority will then receive an alert, and garbage disposal vehicles will reach the spot to collect the waste. The NKDA is planning to install nearly 50 such smart bins at different spots from Nazrul Tirtha to Rabindra Tirtha in New Town. Further, Tiruppur district in Tamil Nadu has deployed smart bins to ensure efficient collection of waste. The initiative is expected to reduce the overflowing of dustbins and help keep the roads clean.
RFID is a wireless communication technology that helps monitor the progress of garbage collection on a real-time basis. The system enables the authorities to track door-to-door garbage collection and monitor the work of sanitation workers. The Lucknow Municipal Corporation has installed RFID devices at the household level to ensure proper monitoring of door-to-door waste collection. Lucknow’s RFID project is based on the Pune Municipal Corporation’s waste management system, which includes initiatives such as geographic information system mapping, awareness and capacity building programmes, and the implementation of waste processing projects. As of January 2021, 1,044 community bins in Agra have been RFID-tagged. In addition to this, 350,000 households have been tagged with QR codes, and 150 vehicles used for primary collection and transportation have been equipped with GPS monitoring systems. When sanitation workers collect waste from houses and scan the RFID barcodes installed there, the command and control centre of the Agra Smart City office receives automatic alerts.
Meanwhile, the Patna Municipal Corporation is planning to implement QR code-enabled door-to-door garbage collection in the city at an estimated cost of Rs 130 million. The project will monitor the routes of door-to-door waste collection vehicles and keep track of the work being done by sanitation teams, by installing a QR code-based RFID tag at every house. The civic body is also planning to set up a control room at its headquarters to monitor the waste collection work.
In Kakinada, every household has been given an RFID tag for sanitation workers to scan so that their physical presence is registered. The response from the public has been satisfactory. However, some households are reluctant to incorporate the new technology.
The road ahead
With the recent surge in the economy, an ever-increasing population and rising living standards, it is expected that there will be a huge increase in the waste volumes of the country. Municipal waste generation in India is expected to double by 2030. The adoption of smart waste collection technology solutions will help address this menace to a large extent.