21 Aug 2017
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New rubbish-sensors being trialled in Christchurch promise to lead to a clean city

By Jacques-Pierre (JP) Dumas

Overflowing rubbish bins in public parks could be wiped out if new sensors being trialled by Christchurch City Council prove successful.

Bin sensors have been attached to three rubbish bins in a Ferrymead Park as a pilot to test the new technology. 

Another seven sensors will be deployed at rubbish trouble spots around the city in the next few weeks, in the second of several initiatives to be rolled out by the Council's Smart Cities programme.

The sensors, which are easily attached to the inside of the bin lid, use sound waves that bounce off material in the bin.

Alerts are sent to contractors’ phones and bin status across the city can be viewed in an online dashboard telling them how full each bin is.

They also track the levels of rubbish providing a graphic illustration of when the bins are used the most.

The PiP Levelsense devices have a GPS location and tilt, shock, vibration and temperature sensing capabilities in case of a fire.

This extends capabilities of the new rubbish sensor, as it can detect fires before they get out of hand and cause serious damage. 

The sensors also use a battery that can last up to five years.

They’ve been developed by local design and innovation company inFact, which has partnered with Christchurch City Council’s Smart Cities Programme team and Council contractors Recreational Services.

Ed Hadfield, Recreational Services operations manager says, “The cool thing about this is that it's allowing us to utilise our resources where they're needed the most.

"The ultimate goal is to have litter-free parks and this tool is steering us in that direction."

The Christchurch pilot project will run for two months before being evaluated to decide whether PiP Levelsense devices should be used more widely.

Nigel Sharplin, inFact managing director says, “We also have another pilot signed up in Auckland with a large contractor starting in the next two weeks.”

The project could show how technology can be used to solve everyday problems.

Teresa McCallum, Smart Cities programme manager says, “We’re really excited about the potential of these bin sensors to clean up an issue that causes a lot of annoyance and inconvenience to the community.

"It’s another example of the way Smart Cities is working alongside local companies to foster innovation that benefits our city and can be used throughout New Zealand and beyond.” 

“Apart from being more efficient, it’s an innovative way to make our city smarter, more sustainable, and get rid of overflowing rubbish complaints for good.”

The bin sensor pilot is a separate project to the Smart Cities' trial of solar-powered ‘Bigbelly’ smart bins.

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