In the last issue we looked at how the internet of things was helping to keep traffic moving on the UK motorway network. Here, we examine how it has the potential to revolutionise waste management
Anyone who has walked down Upper Street in Islington recently may have noticed a new style of rubbish bin currently being trialled by councils up and down the country, from Rugby to Chester and from London to Coventry.
Bigbelly bins, which can also be found in Times Square, New York, combine a number of technologies that bring new levels of flexibility and intelligence to waste management.
The main components are:
an integrated solar PV module powering a 12v battery;
an internal, battery-powered compactor that exerts 1,200 pounds of force to crush rubbish to one eighth of its normal volume, so that each Bigbelly can hold eight times as much litter as a standard bin;
cloud connectivity and sensors within the bin that when triggered send a text/ email to the council advising that it needs emptying; and
smart cloud-based tracking and reporting, which allows councils to locate bins on a street map and view their status.
The combination of these technologies should reduce the number of collections needed and enable councils to schedule collections more intelligently, reducing carbon emissions and the amount of traffic on the road.
Their extra bin capacity in a footprint not much larger than a standard bin makes Bigbelly bins particularly useful for busy intersections where bins fill up quickly, and should help maintain cleaner streets and aid pest control.
Matt Crisp, MD of Bigbelly Solar UK, said: “We are aiming to transform one of the least efficient and resource-intensive industries on the planet – public waste collection and on-the-street recycling.”
However, he adds that Bigbelly bins have much broader applications, as they create an infrastructure that can be enhanced with additional sensors, for example to monitor noise, footfall, temperature or air quality.
“The best way to envisage the Bigbelly units is to regard them as real estate that is powered and connected to the cloud. Over the last 10 years we have established that the waste efficiencies and savings generated are unquestionable, but there is a lot more we can now do. Think of Bigbelly as self-powered, smart and connected, on-the-street real estate capable of hosting other technologies that can improve the lives of people living nearby,” he said.
“The pace of technology innovation is allowing us to combine processes, data analysis and a network of sensors and devices, with an overlay of the needs of individuals or benefits that will produce real improvements in people’s lives. Throughout the UK, investments in the Bigbelly system are being made to deliver services through a connected infrastructure that provides substantive benefits like cleaner, safer streets.”