City to release app to track trash collection

By Kate Dolan
Posted 9/30/20

Philadelphia is launching an app this week which will allow residents to track sanitation truck routes and pick-up status in “almost real time.”

“PickupPHL is a new web map that …

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City to release app to track trash collection

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Philadelphia is launching an app this week which will allow residents to track sanitation truck routes and pick-up status in “almost real time.”

“PickupPHL is a new web map that allow residents to view and track the status of daily trash and recycling collections,” said Mayor Kenney at a press conference last week. The interactive, online platform will be ready for users on October 1.

Color-coded for each day, residents can view sanitation truck routes throughout the city and determine when a truck will visit their block throughout the day. Users can distinguish between recycling and trash trucks and the GPS will update the map every 30 minutes with new information.

Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams joined the mayor at Tuesday’s press conference to introduce PickupPHL and to review the challenges faced by the Streets Department as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to widespread and prolonged trash and recycling collection delays in the city.

“Trash and recycling has been significantly impacted by the pandemic since it began in March,” said Williams. “We have problems with absenteeism, and also most importantly, we saw a 30% increase in residential trash collection.”

Williams said cities across the nation have experienced similar issues, saying that those cities “have had to alter services, eliminate recycling and offer a modified trash collection program.”

“We’re averaging 3,000 tons more per week,” said Williams, guiding conference viewers through an onscreen presentation of charts and graphs to demonstrate the impact. “Some weeks we’re as much as 5-6,000 tons as you can see in July when the pandemic hit its height.”

July also brought torrential rain and flooding and the summer’s most severe heat wave — two other causes for the delays cited by Williams and by the mayor many times over the summer.

Attendance has also been an issue according to Williams and since July, 150 temporary workers have been hired to meet the demands of the increased trash.

Both Kenney and Williams said collection schedules are back on track as of the last few weeks. Calls to 311 with complaints about trash pick-up delays, which reached 6,000 in July, are down to “just hundreds for both trash and recycling,” according to Williams.

The app which was built by the city’s Office of Innovation and Technology “further demonstrates our Administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability in City services,” Kenney said.

For Williams, it is one of the ways the Streets Department is working to improve its services and to keep city residents informed.

“This was very difficult for us to communicate without this tool because in certain parts of the city we may have been on time and in other parts, we may have experienced delays and when you’re trying to message this to the public, it could get confusing,” Williams said. “But with this tool, [residents] are now allowed to see where you are in real time so they can make appropriate decisions.”

The department has also introduced and will expand the Curb Your Waste Campaign to include tips for Philadelphia residents on “how they should put their trash out to reduce delays and keep our workers safe.”

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