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Mississippi County Tracks Waste Pickup

Using RFID readers on trucks and tags on waste carts, Monroe County identified 600 customers who were receiving service without being billed.
By Claire Swedberg
Monroe County's drivers delivered the new tagged receptacles to each resident, and utilized an RFID-enabled handheld computer (designed and assembled by FleetMind) to capture a cart's unique ID number. The drivers then used the handheld's keypad to input that customer's address, which was linked to other data in the county's back-end system, such as the home's GPS coordinates, scheduled pickup dates and times, and information as to which truck will make the pickups.

When a truck later begins its pickups, the FleetMind software on the onboard computer alerts the driver to each forthcoming stop, including the next address on the pickup route and which cart ID numbers should be on the curb. When the truck picks up the cart with its mechanical arm, the cart is lifted toward the vehicle's hopper, where the fixed interrogator (made by FleetMind with Alien Technology components) captures the cart's unique ID number. That ID number, along with the address and GPS coordinates, is sent to the back-end server via a GPRS transmission.

The software allows both the county and the driver to then receive an alert if a pickup has been missed, if a cart has been emptied that lacked an RFID tag, or if a specific cart is emptied at the incorrect address (for instance, if it were emptied in front of a house to which it had not been assigned). On a map of the truck's route, maintained on the back-end software, the county's employees can view the truck's exact location in real time, along with color-coded icons indicating which carts have been emptied—and at which addresses—as well as which have not.

There have been several key benefits to using the system, according to a county spokesperson: more accurate invoicing and billing information, additional revenues from carts that were being emptied and not billed, improved route efficiencies and better customer service, because the county now knows where each truck is located, in real time, as well as which carts have been emptied.

The county is a member of a seven-county co-operative that eventually intends to implement this service, Demers says. "We've been doing this for many years, and our system has become very sophisticated. It provides a lot of information," he states, adding, "In most cases, users see a return on investment in six months or less."

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