West Memphis nominated for Digital Government award

West Memphis nominated for Digital Government award

City recognized for taking tech- friendly approach to doing business

news@theeveningtimes.com

The Arkansas Digital Government award nominees this year included West Memphis. The city gained recognition for implementing leading edge technology with the Rubicon Global system now installed on city sanitation vehicles. Rubicon combined cameras, motion sensors and GPS location to deliver real-time information on city trash and garbage collection. The data collection and analyze program help take and organize pictures, flag locations, and dispatch alert while providing real time location information.

Taxpayers will enjoy the cost saving benefits of efficiency driven by the system and administrators will have real time information on the location and movement of the city sanitation fleet. When a customers calls wanting to know where the garbage truck is, an administrator can tell them how far away the truck is or if they are too late to put out the trash.

Smartphones loaded with the Rubicon hauler mobile app coupled with onboard computer plug in devices were installed in the sanitation vehicles. Thirteen trucks service 8,500 customer stops in the city.

West Memphis can collect data and better manage waste collection costs with the system. The city signed up to test the equipment which came at no cost through the end of 2018, but will cost $70,000$90,000 per year should the city continue the service after testing the technology. Mayor Bill Johnson endorsed the project when he inked the deal for the free test period.

“We’re excited to have this type of technology being tested on our city’s fleet,” said Johnson. “We believe it will help provide a safer more reliable waste service to our residents and employees.”

In health and safety concerns peeked in the city when trash and debris pick up got way behind. The sanitation department suffered through lost time due to injury, a depleted staff and broken down trucks in the spring. An increase in the amount of tree limbs was hauled off by the claw trucks but the trash route didn’t ever catch up to the garbage route the entire spring. Limbs browned and complaints about snakes and vermin in the trash were received. Public Works Chairwoman Ramona Taylor expressed hope that the new technology would help the city better manage its sanitation schedule when the technology was recommended by the commissioners to the city administration.

“This will be a great tool to improve service,” said Taylor. “Most private companies

are using GPS routing.”

The Rubicon system has been fully installed and is expected to help garbage and trash pick up to stay smoothed out for city customers. City Council will see the RubiconSmartCity platform during a demonstration at its final council meeting of the month on Thursday, Sept. 20. City Engineer Amanda Hicks touted the early results and invited the public to the demonstration at city council.

“We will show you how we are better able to use our trucks to stay in touch with our customers and drivers,” said Hicks. “It has opened lines of communication. So far all our people have been logging with the Smartphones.”

Hicks announced the state digital technology nomination at the monthly Public Works Commission meeting. The awards banquet was set for Sept. 14.

“We are being recognized for implementing the Rubicon app,” said Hicks. “A lot of what we see, include pick ups per hour, geo-location of the pick-ups and stationary time.”

By John Rech

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