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Nairobi garbage trucks double as data collectors

IBM has equipped trash trucks in Nairobi with technology that gathers statistics on everything from road conditions to driver routes. (IBM Research)

Garbage trucks in Nairobi collect more than just trash.

Christine Mungai reports for Mail & Guardian Africa that the haulers are equipped with technology that gathers stats on everything from road conditions to the garbage truck’s speed and location. The data collection stems from IBM’s effort to provide the city with a comprehensive traffic management system, the article says. The company opened its first African research facility in Nairobi in 2013.

The sensors aboard trash tracks dissuade drivers from illegally transporting sand and stone for private businesses. Real-time data on fuel consumed, distance traveled, routes and idling time is beamed to managers. The result: More refuse gets picked up citywide.

A future application could involve mapping streets and shacks in African cities. This would enable home delivery of products and assist with urban planning and even disease control. “It’s the kind of public-private partnerships in applied research that Africa’s cities need to exploit, if they are to be habitable in the future,” Mungai writes of Nairobi’s experience.

See Citiscope’s coverage here of how Nairobi built a thriving tech community. 

Mail & Guardian Africa

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