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Smart Waste Management Solutions: The Effective Role Internet of Things Can Play

With segregation and awareness programmes already going on in many parts of the country, the next steps in effective waste management would be to effectively implement Internet of things (IoT) solutions to monitor waste management initiatives

Garbage collection truck
  • Internet of things allows effective record keeping and tracking
  • Vijaywada has implemented IoT in its garbage collection autos
  • IoT potential in Smart Cities to be examined by MoUD

The problem of accumulating waste in India ought to become a shared concern, as the growing amount of waste is gradually choking the country. From households to industries, waste in India is generated at every level and is still highly mismanaged, as the concepts of segregation, treatment and recycling are yet to catch on. The beginning of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan saw waste being seriously taken up as an issue and various government departments are spreading awareness on the benefits of segregation. Setting up of more waste management plants is another agenda of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). Distribution of garbage bins, conducting awareness programmes and setting up of waste treatment plants are effective steps to ensure better management of waste. But technology can also take forward waste management progresses in India, if utilised the right way.

Internet of Things (IoT) is one such technological phenomenon which can work wonders for India’s waste woes and is already being tried as a monitoring system to manage waste. Waste collection in India is a troublesome scenario as many municipal bodies lack sufficient manpower, garbage collection vehicles as well as the capacity to monitor how much garbage is being collected and sent for treatment or disposed. With IoT in place, it will become easier for municipal bodies to monitor the whole waste management process.

Municipal workers in India remain under unofficial contracts which have an effect on their wages, attendance and hours of work. Civic bodies give garbage collection contracts to private contractors, who employ garbage collectors but do not essentially place an effective monitoring system, resulting in uneven attendance which impacts garbage collection. By implementing IoT, garbage collectors can have unique identification cards, allowing them to record the number of hours they have worked. This will also help the contractors or civic bodies tally the daily work hours with the amount of garbage collected, and point out any discrepancies. The garbage collection system in a city will become more systematic and yield better results.

Waste collection is often seen as an unofficial activity, due to which contractors who are given the responsibility do not keep a track of the workers or how much work is being done. An internet of Things based system will keep records of workers as well as work done, ensuring better results in waste management. Once we complete the transition of getting all workers under the municipal corporation, we will also begin using IoT in several aspects of waste management, said a Bengaluru Municipal Corporation official.

If Bengaluru’s recent decision to take over the mantle of waste management from private contractors is anything to go by, municipal corporations can incorporate more technological solutions towards waste management if they have complete control over all aspects of dealing with waste, from collection to disposal. In July 2017, Andhra Pradesh launched a fleet of smart garbage collection autos in the city of Vijaywada. These pollution free autorickshaws come with multiple tracking points which track where the waste is being collected from, how much waste has been collected, route taken by the vehicle and spot of disposal. The autos launched eliminate manual tracking and monitoring.

The city’s waste management system can now be monitored from a single location. Public waste management will now be connected to mobiles and real time tracking will be possible for municipal officers. This eliminates the chances of any mismanagement related to garbage collection and transportation, said J. Nivas, Commissioner, Vijayawada Municipal Corporation.

The Smart Cities Mission launched by the Ministry of Urban Development in 2015 aims to transform many cities of India into smart cities, with high end waste management systems in place. To ensure that smart cities live up to their names, an eco-friendly and smart waste management system must be functional in smart cities. Accumulation of waste is a major problem. With IoT solutions in place, accumulation of waste can also be checked. Placing of sensors in garbage disposal points will help civic bodies to keep a track of how much garbage is being disposed in a particular disposal site. In case a particular site exhausts its capacity, garbage can be immediately shifted from the site.

Smart cities will have smart waste management programmes in place. Garbage accumulation is a big problem for cities and urban civic bodies find it difficult to move garbage when it gets accumulated beyond capacity. With weight sensors in place, municipal officials can regularly monitor the capacity of a landfill and continuously move garbage to ensure that the accumulation never goes out of control. We plan to use such a mechanism in upcoming smart cities, with approval from MoUD, said Rajiv Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

IoT is a common implementation in many countries to manage waste effectively. Singapore for example, has utilised IoT effectively in tracking, fixing garbage collection routes and monitoring collection processes. Using of IoT solutions also lessened manpower costs as well as garbage removal costs for Singapore.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is currently examining a proposal where it plans to send to the MoUD to enable IoT in smart cities, ensuring an effective waste management system in place. IoT solutions can also provide other numerous support such as monitoring water and air quality to ensure overall environmental maintenance. Since Smart Cities is already a programme of the government which is underway, implementing IoT solutions to manage waste right from the beginning will ensure that waste never becomes too tough a problem to tackle in urban spaces.

Also Read: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu Flags Off Smart, Electric Autos For Waste Disposal In Vijayawada

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