Sunday 2:30 p.m.–3 p.m.

Smart Dumpster: Employing Python to Report Real-Time Resource Fill to Operation Managers

Bradley Angell

Audience level:


As U. of California campuses must reach Zero-Waste by 2020, a Smart Dumpster was designed to increase efficiency, study waste patterns, and improve refuse reduction. Using Python, a prototype has been installed into operations with tentative success since July 2013. Demonstrating real-time data reporting, the talk will focus on the success, roadblocks and campus plans for the Smart Dumpster.


The Dilemma of Zero-Waste Operations ------------------------------------ All University of California campuses are required to reach an arduous zero-waste goal by the year 2020, necessarily limiting the materials destined for landfill burial to only 5% of the total waste stream. At UC Santa Cruz, novel efforts are underway to reach this goal all the while addressing the bigger dilemma of operating a zero-waste campus; that is, to employ a robust resource recovery system which is based on a budget centered on refuse disposal, but now must deliver all components of the waste stream away from landfill deposit. As refuse is removed from the resource stream, new methods for budgeting functions of the department are imperative in future Grounds Services operations. In response to the shifting basis of operational execution, the Grounds Services department developed and installed a Smart Dumpster prototype to dramatically increase collection efficiency, study waste deposit patterns, and encourage overall refuse reductions. At its essence, the Smart Dumpster is a typical dumpster that has an integrated depth sonar that is linked to a cloud computing application. This sonar bounces real-time depth levels from the cloud to end-user applications by employing Python software. In doing so, all activities surrounding the dumpster’s use and evacuation are presented for real-time management, record analysis, and potential innovation. Importance of Python Programming -------------------------------- Python was seen as integral to the Smart Dumpster concept due to its excellent programming function in regard to arrays. This function allows multiple sonar sensors to be added to the same software program in a seamless and relatively simple manner. Further, the sonar hardware required a Python application be installed on the senor itself to operate, interact with cloud services, and ultimately, to deliver sonar readings for end-user objectives. This talk will outline the importance of Python for sonar operation and for creating a centralized file for managing the dumpsters on campus. Executing a Smart Dumpster Prototype ------------------------------------ As the Smart Dumpster has been operating since July 13, 2013, the programming team has focused on end-user management capability based on the data collected and stored for review. This talk will demonstrate the most recent iteration of the Smart Dumpster Dashboard, data analysis from the sonar’s readings, and review how operational roadblocks were overcome with Smart Dumpster design. Even in the prototype’s infancy, evidence-based proposals for innovation have emerged with the hopes to eventually roll-out the Smart Dumpster design for the entire UC Santa Cruz campus. By the end of the presentation, attendees will appreciate the data infrastructure necessary to integrate input devices, Python programming, and a user-friendly interface software with the Smart Dumpster prototype as evidence of a successful pilot project.