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Japanese city testing service to notify residents when garbage trucks are approaching

A garbage truck equipped with a GPS device and environment assessment censor is seen in Nisshin, Aichi Prefecture, on Dec. 16, 2021. (Mainichi/Motoyori Arakawa)
A GPS device and environment assessment censor on a garbage truck are seen in Nisshin, Aichi Prefecture, on Dec. 16, 2021. (Mainichi/Motoyori Arakawa)

NISSHIN, Aichi -- A municipal government in the central Japan prefecture of Aichi is working with universities to create a system in which residents are notified when garbage trucks are approaching to solve various problems surrounding household trash, including odors and animals scavenging through garbage left outside.

    In the city of Nisshin, residents are required to take their trash out by 8:30 a.m. to a garbage station. Depending on the station, however, garbage doesn't get picked up until past noon, and as a result, residents complain about odors, and animal damage is also reported such as crows digging into the trash. There are some 1,800 garbage stations in the city, and municipal employees have to respond to calls from residents asking whether trash has been picked up.

    In the joint demonstration test started by groups including the Nisshin Municipal Government, Meijo University in the Aichi Prefecture capital Nagoya and Nagoya University, GPS devices are set up in all of the some 20 garbage trucks in Nisshin. Residents receive notifications via the free messaging app Line when test subject garbage trucks are approaching. Burnable waste such as produce gets picked up twice a week, plastic packaging once a week and metal waste once a month. The groups estimate that the notifications will be sent out around 15 minutes before the trucks arrive at their destinations.

    The project is hoped to prevent trash from being taken out after the trucks have completed the pickup and to shorten the time the garbage stays at the pickup stations. The notification service will start by the end of fiscal 2021 at the earliest, and is expected to gradually expand its coverage.

    This kind of system is already in place at regular-route bus stops and it seems not too complicated to introduce it to garbage collection services. However, garbage trucks change their routes depending on the day due to obstacles such as road construction and movers' trucks parked on the side of a street. They also sometimes need to take the trash to a waste disposal center when the truck becomes full. Furthermore, the same truck isn't always necessarily assigned to the same pickup route.

    Under such circumstances, a research group including Meijo University Faculty of Science and Technology associate professor Hidekazu Suzuki and Nagoya University Graduate School of Engineering associate professor Takuro Yonezawa will conduct the demonstration test for two and a half years until March 2024 to develop an error-less notification system and verify its usefulness to solve problems related to household waste. The city of Nisshin will then decide whether it will actually introduce the system into use.

    In addition, some of the garbage trucks used in the test will carry environment assessment censors that measure fine particle matters and other air pollutants to monitor the city's environmental conditions, taking advantage of garbage trucks that move across the city. Suzuki and Yonezawa said they hope that the garbage trucks would help develop services beyond collecting trash.

    (Japanese original by Motoyori Arakawa, Nagoya News Center)

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