City Utilizes GIS for Curbside Greens Recycling

Life of a Landfill.

The City of San Diego has recently expanded its green waste recycling program to include weekly organic waste recycling collection for all households currently eligible for collection services.  This is good news as it will enable the City of San Diego to get closer to its goal of reducing the waste that is being put into landfills.  The City’s goal is to reduce waste going into its landfills  almost entirely by the year 2040.

The Environmental Services Department (ESD) wanted to take advantage of smart technologies to make the task of managing the new green bins and greenery collection efficient. The technology employed includes three automated business systems:  1) work management, 2) Geographic Information System (GIS), and 3) fleet management. 

The new weekly organic waste recycling collection includes curbside pickup of food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste.  Some residents have already started receiving their new green bins and all neighborhoods should have curbside greenery pickup over the next several months. 

Cities can substantially increase the life of their landfills by recycling green waste.  The City has estimated  that over three cubic yards of landfill are saved for every ton of greens recycled. With numbers like this it is obvious why in 2022 the City of San Diego began a significant expansion of its green waste management program.

  The Environmental Services Department (ESD)  in San Diego ensures that residents have a clean and safe environment by pursuing waste management strategies that emphasize waste reduction and recycling, composting, and environmentally sound landfill management. 

Learn more about environmental services, recycling, and waste management here: .

Fleet Management and GIS

The Environmental Services Department already had a Geographical Information System (GIS) in place to manage waste collection routes for refuse, recycling, and green waste and wanted to leverage that investment for the expanded organics pickup program. The GIS software ESD uses for collection is based on  Esri’s ArcGIS Platform .  The Department also had work management software, Salesforce, for managing the weekly schedules for bin pickup. The third, and new system added to the mix was chosen to provide fleet management capabilities.  ESD chose   Routeware   as the additional software which is installed on in-cab units, gathers data from smart sensors, and cameras mounted on the waste collection trucks.  

To reduce staff manual labor and increase efficiency, the City of San Diego needed an integrated interface that would pull together data from these three specialized systems.  To assist with the integration,  Quartic Solutions , a San Diego-based woman-owned GIS services company, was brought in. Quartic’s job was to implement an automated process for keeping data current between these systems.  As Salesforce, ArcGIS, and Routeware are all modern technologies, they all utilize web service technology for communication.  Quartic was responsible for creating the web service components (ArcGIS feature and map services) that bring Salesforce and Routeware data together.

The Technology

By using web services, the team was able to design and construct a smart system architecture that would meet all the requirements of the drivers, supervisors and office staff.  The team redesigned the previous Extract Transform Load (ETL) job to handle the complex table structures needed to keep the location site data, the bin container data, the route data, and fleet data organized and in-sync.  They also created a REST endpoint for Routeware so the truck drivers can update the routing Information themselves.

Integrated system workflow diagram

The batch data synchronization process begins with Salesforce updating records in multiple GIS tables via an ArcGIS feature service. GIS synthesizes information and performs geoprocessing at the container level, the smallest unit among multiple tables, and brings in additional information from a variety of reference layers. The intermediate product includes the truck routing information which is sent to Routeware also via a feature service. Once Routeware reads data from GIS, routes are displayed in RCC for the drivers to view and update. After drivers pick up all the bins and make route attribute changes, the updated route information gets back to the GIS database via the same feature service. GIS performs another batch of geoprocessing to update individual polygons that represent routes per each bin type and then converts the container-level data back to the site-level data and sends the updates to Salesforce. Salesforce pulls the GIS delta via a feature service, and the department accesses the dataset via either the map service or Enterprise database connections.

Timing Is Everything

Integrating complex systems can be tricky.  The new system had to manage much larger datasets than in the past. To keep data in sync between the three systems, ETL jobs are scheduled to run at night when system usage is lowest. The Salesforce, GIS, and Routeware batch jobs are also scheduled to run in a sequential order at specific times, nightly.  If any one of the batch jobs takes too long to complete it will likely have an impact on the subsequent job run. In order to improve performance, the team employed a solution called multiprocessing.  This technique allows the GIS software to process large amounts of data within limited server resources. By using the GIS multiprocessing technique, the ETL job run time was able to be significantly reduced. 

Then, to improve performance even more, the GIS was configured to take advantage of database structures, called database views.  These database views speed up the processing by having the modified (aka delta) records in Salesforce and Routeware indexed and in-memory, greatly shortening the data pulling time.

Esri Technology

The Esri ArcGIS technology used in the project was ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS online / Portal.

No more guessing

The new system allows ESD access to the functionality they need to effectively manage the organic waste recycling program.  Now, drivers can take advantage of in-cab tablets loaded with a wealth of quality spatial data.  In-office staff can also be more productive by taking advantage of an integrated system of Salesforce, GIS, and Routeware.  The benefits are anticipated to increase the productivity of staff and increase reliability and response times to the public.

The project was planned and scheduled to roll out in three phases.  The first two phases are now complete, and the final one is estimated to begin by the end of the year.

More Information

Visit:  The City of San Diego Environmental Services ,  Routeware,  and please check out our partner  Esri,  and  Quartic Solutions , to learn more about Spatial Technologies and how you can utilize them at your organization. 

Ready for Action?

Mapping and spatial analysis provide insight to a great variety of industries and markets. Quartic will empower your business by harnessing the intelligence of spatial technology.
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