ReCollect: Helping Cities Make a Great Impression Through Garbage

January 15, 2015 10:28 am PST | Data Apps & Visualization, Data as a Service

Garbage. You don’t think about it often, but garbage (and its removal) is a core service your city delivers.  

When you move to a new town, pretty much the first thing you need to figure out is what do about your garbage. When are your pick up days? Do you have to separate paper from aluminum recycling? Is organic waste disposal available?

“Garbage is interesting because its the first impression a city makes on a new resident,” says David Eaves, open data expert and co-founder of ReCollect, the Vancouver-based company providing online and mobile waste management solutions. “If you, as a city, can make a strong first impression there it helps with their perception of how you deliver other services.”

Getting accurate garbage collection information out to residents is critical not just when they first move to a new location, but also when a new schedule is being rolled out or when a city adds a new collection stream, like recycling organics. While these can be opportunities for confusion, ReCollect’s suite of apps diminish that possibility by delivering clear, accurate, and specific information for individual residents. Eaves also points out that a digital solution is far more effective and less ironic (electronic solutions do save trees after all) than using paper flyers to notify citizens of a service change.

City-to-citizen and citizen-to-city communication regarding waste management is important, so all ReCollect apps are white labeled. In that way, ReCollect isn’t disintermediating the flow of information between the municipality and residents, its facilitating it.

ReCollect tools can appear on multiple places, for example on city, county, and private hauler’s websites. As Eaves says, “It doesn’t matter where residents find the information. What matters is that it’s always consistent and accurate.”

A host of customer service tools are included in ReCollect software which allows residents to report incidents like stolen bins, lack of pick up, or any other waste removal issue that might be identified. The system also integrates with other reporting apps, such as SeeClickFix, further streamlining communication.

Eaves humorously suggests local governments “delight their residents over garbage” saying it provides value and pays dividends down for cities. In many places, trash is a large driver of call volume into city help desks or 311 centers. Taking those calls costs a municipality money, so Eaves and ReCollect are dedicated to reducing the number of those calls and creating greater efficiency for cities.

ReCollect is also motivated by a desire to make the planet better. So the company’s apps also encourage recycling. In the end, more recycling still leads to a more efficient government, Eaves told Socrata in a phone interview. “A city is paying for every ton of waste it takes to the landfill,” he says. “But every ton taken to the recycling depot is money in the city’s pocket.”

Cost savings, improved communication, and greater citizen satisfaction is easily achievable through ReCollect apps. Who knew garbage could do so much?

This post is part of a series about apps available through the Socrata Marketplace.

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