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Litter(ally) an app for that: Raleigh tracks trash with mobile phone app

Posted August 22

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— When a city is growing as quickly as Raleigh, one of the bigger jobs for utility workers is keeping streets clean.

In an effort to do just that, the city's parks department is turning to a mobile phone app to help fight litter.

Assistant park superintendent Ivan Dickey says the Litter Reporter app came into being after the city received many complaints about downtown being too dirty.

"Litter can be subjective and mean a lot of things to different people. We needed to figure out what was out there," he said.

The city created the app, and a team of employees has been walking around, looking for trash to track. The app categorizes litter and then allows officials to quantify it and put it on a map, Dickey said.

The app identified the intersection of Wilmington and Hargett streets as one of the most littered areas in downtown.

In response, the city installed some trash compactors at the intersection, and Dickey says it seems to be working.

"You have bus stops there where people are standing there with something in their hand, and they finish their coffee and need somewhere to put it," Dickey said.

Dickey says showing the Litter Reporter app to City Council members convinced them to hire more people, including a coordinator focused on downtown litter.

"We'll get them on board and make downtown even cleaner than it is," Dickey said.

Dickey says the city is also looking at ways for the app to help them track storm damage cleanup during severe weather incidents.

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