Data into Dollars: ReCollect Fuels Stronger Communities
What is your garbage collection day? Even if you know it, do you still forget to put your garbage out sometimes? Helping you remember your collection day via text or phone call is just one of the many services offered by civic entrepreneur David Eaves and his team at ReCollect. They’re putting open data to work so that cities’ waste management programs can spend less time on missed collections and communications and keep residents happier.
“ReCollect is an easy and delightful way for customers to get the solid waste information they need, but it can also create a weekly contact point with residents—an opportunity to build a two-way relationship for engagement,” says Eaves.
Founded in 2009, ReCollect is used by municipalities and private haulers in 50 cities across North America, including Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. The cities range in size from less than 10,000 people to more than one million. Hundreds of thousands of residents in these towns receive not only pick-up date reminders, but service updates and emergency notices.
Eaves says ReCollect helps reduce 311 and help desk call volumes, as well as improve diversion rates, saving cities money and helping the planet. Their products offer a “Report a Problem” feature so that citizens can start a conversation with their government easily. Born out of the government 2.0 and open data movements, ReCollect’s mission is to help organizations re-imagine services in ways that are citizen-centric, easy to use for both city staff and residents, and affordable. Eaves believes that cities can not only provide better services by using smart technology, but can spend fairly little on procuring and managing software.
ReCollect employs several full-time employees, working on technology, marketing, and product development. In addition to white-label mobile web and mobile apps, the company now offers web calendars that serve as communications tools and can be produced in multiple languages, including French, Spanish, and Chinese. And, their “Waste Wizard” helps residents know which waste goes in which bin.
ReCollect’s site shares some surprising benefits from its products. People are finding the mobile app and email reminders help their relationships. “I like ReCollect so much I input my teenage son’s cell number. A text reminder is much better than me nagging. I don’t think he’s appreciated the gesture quite as much as my neighbors who thought that was brilliant,” says a Coquitlam resident.
A man from Thunder Bay wrote, “Love your service!! Now my wife can tell me when to take out the garbage… she forwards the email! THANKS!”
Eaves is excited about his company’s success but has a much bigger vision for ReCollect’s reach and for open data. He regularly writes and speaks on the importance of offering more open data so that businesses can thrive. In a recent blog post he wrote, “For many datasets, citizens should not have to make a request. Nor should we have to answer questions about why we want the data. It should be downloadable in its entirety. Not trapped behind some unhelpful search engine.”
Eaves’ blog posts can be found at eaves.ca.