In order to support a growing urban population and address waste management challenges, smart cities in India have incorporated technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning system (GPS), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and smart bins into their service delivery mechanisms. These technologies are aimed at making solid waste management more efficient by monitoring waste generation and promoting segregation at source.
Waste management companies need to know the exact location of garbage containers in order to pick up garbage on time and regularly. A GPS tracker identifies the nearest vehicle to a container, thus maximising efficiency and minimising distances. It not only increases efficiency, but is also cost-effective and saves time. Drivers are given the fastest route to reach various garbage disposal sites. This is done with the help of easy-to-read maps that do not require any rigorous training. Waste management companies can also save operational costs by reducing the fuel spend with route optimisation and elimination of excessive driving.
In order to remove waste effectively, many cities in India have started deploying GPS-based vehicle tracking and monitoring systems for solid such as Kota, Udaipur, Jaipur, Indore, Vijayawada, Coimbatore and Nagpur are using GIS and GPS for tracking municipal solid waste. This helps them collect data on a real-time basis.
Recent trends and developments
To ensure efficient solid waste management in the city of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, a GPS-based vehicle tracking and monitoring system (VTMS) has been installed. The key features of the project include online real-time monitoring of garbage vehicle movement and effective enforcement through a web-based VTMS, installation of IP cameras at the entry and exit of the landfill site, deployment of an integrated Weighbridge vehicle monitoring system at entry and exit points and integration of VTMS with the central command and control centre. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has also started using VTMS to monitor its waste collection vehicles. This has helped the solid waste management department of PMC to increase vehicle productivity, effectively plan its schedules and establish transparency in operations.
In January 2021, a Delhi-based tech startup, Onelap, was appointed as a GPS tracking service provider to Chumukedima Municipal Corporation. Chumukedima is a government notified town of Dimapur district in the state of Nagaland. The town is located 14 km away from Dimapur, on National Highway-29, situated at the foothills of the Naga Hills. Over the past few years, the quantum of waste generation in the town has increased considerably and with the help of GPS tracking services, the urban local body will be able to manage its waste more efficiently.
The Greater Vishakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) is also planning to install GPS tracking devices in its vehicles to monitor garbage transportation. As many as 600 vehicles, including water tankers, will be fitted with GPS devices. Currently, GPS trackers have been fitted in 50 vehicles under the smart city project, which can be monitored from GVMC’s city operations centre.
Jabalpur Municipal Corporation has also established a collection and transportation system through private sector participation to refine solid waste management services in the city. Jabalpur Smart City Limited, in one of its major IT initiatives, implemented an RFID (radio-frequency identification), BLS tracking and monitoring system integrated with the current VTMS and other dashboards to monitor, manage and control the integrated solid waste management system.
Chandigarh Smart City Limited has also successfully allotted its ambitious project of SWM vehicle tracking and SCADA. Under the project, a control room will be established and the city will be divided into 10 zones, with 10 people managing each zone on a regular basis. They will monitor the garbage lifting exercise, movement of vehicles, time spent on each house to lift garbage, GPS tracking system of vehicles, service level improvements and public complaints. They will also identify habitual garbage-lifting offenders. Moreover, a mobile application will be introduced for residents to know the exact timing of the arrival of garbage lifting vehicles in their respective areas. Under the technical system, garbage collectors will be able to lodge complaints against people not giving segregated garbage.
In Chennai, battery-operated vehicles are being used for door-to-door collection of segregated and non-segregated waste from households and marketplaces, and horticultural waste from public places. Approximately 125 compactors, 38 mechanical sweepers, 3,000 e-rickshaws, 300 heavy motor vehicles/light motor vehicles and 11,000 compactor trash cans (in different colours for different types of waste) have been deployed to ensure proper collection and transportation of waste. The entire solid waste management system employs nearly 10,844 workers to carry out the cleaning work. Under this system, work has been taken up on 16,621 streets across seven zones, catering to a population of nearly 3.7 million. Further, a smart control room is planned to be set up at Alandur. It will have separate teams to address complaints for each zone. The control room will also monitor the route maps of trucks and compactor bins. The entire system will be geotagged and vigilantly monitored by GPS.
Chennai is also switching to a system of smart bins, wherein garbage bins at public places are enabled with sensors to track the quantity of garbage being dumped in them. The installed sensors transmit data about the status of bins in real time through wireless networks.
Key challenges and issues
While GPS technology has several merits, it also comes with various issues and challenges. The data generated from the devices needs to be collated and analysed properly to reap the full benefits of this technology. For this, more technology-savvy professionals are required. Further, even though the technology reduces the operational cost of waste management companies, installation of these systems is expensive. That said, the technology has many features that can revolutionise the whole waste management system.
While implementation has picked up pace, the widespread deployment of the technology continues to be fraught with issues. Significant progress has been registered in terms of the number of local bodies adopting GPS for vehicle tracking. However, the segment still lacks technical capability at the implementation level. Further, a number of ULBs lack credible and updated data on existing infrastructure facilities, making performance comparison nearly impossible. The Covid-induced nationwide lockdown has also impacted project execution. While with the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions most cities have recommenced work, projects are expected to be delayed by a few months.