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Glasgow Embraces ‘Groundbreaking’ AI for Roadside Litter Surveillance

Advanced AI technology and image capturing pinpoint litter hotspots on Glasgow’s roads.

Rubbish and waste increasing in Glasgow. Source: Shutterstock/richardjohnson

Cutting-edge technology and Environmental Expertise Combine to Reveal the Extent and Types of Litter in Scotland’s Largest City.

Hubbub and Ellipsis Earth have partnered to create a map that shows the amount and types of litter on Glasgow’s roads. The goal of this partnership is to address Scotland’s litter problem. This partnership aims to address Scotland’s litter issue. They utilize advanced image-capturing and AI data-processing technology to capture the litter on the road.

We used AI-powered cameras on vehicles to survey roads, junctions, city centers, and retail areas in Glasgow. The primary purpose was to identify litter on the ground.

The data indicated that litter gathered more where vehicles move more slowly, like at traffic lights, junctions, and roundabouts. Additionally, litter from food and beverage packaging is twice as prevalent in out-of-town locations compared to the city center, particularly during the evening hours.

Glasgow Embraces 'Groundbreaking' AI for Roadside Litter Surveillance
Litter , Source : Unsplash

Collaborative Efforts to Promote Responsible Litter Disposal

Hubbub, Glasgow City Council, and Keep Scotland Beautiful tested litter interventions on Paisley Road West after a survey.

The spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council expressed her pleasure in collaborating with Hubbub on the Tidy Roadsides initiative. The council highly values any efforts that motivate individuals to dispose of their litter responsibly. Moreover, they appreciate the provision of data and insights regarding nudge theory techniques, which have proven effective in promoting positive behavioral change. This information allows the council to allocate resources in areas where they will have the most significant impact.

The council believes littering can be stopped if people take their trash home or use public trash cans in the city. This would lessen the demand for expensive cleaning efforts, allowing the council to allocate funds to more productive projects. The study found that litter is discarded on Glasgow’s streets every three seconds.

This is a significant issue for the locals, services, and wildlife. The most prevalent forms of roadside trash included paper, cigarette butts, glass bottles, cigarettes, and shattered plastic pieces from food and beverages.

Radio and social media were used to encourage drivers to keep their trash until they can dispose of it properly. Signs and banners were put up for this purpose. Additionally, drivers were requested to spend two minutes cleaning their vehicles.

Effective Initiatives to Tackle Roadside Litter

To assess the impact of these initiatives on litter levels, a survey was conducted primarily on Paisley Road West. They were also asked to spend two minutes cleaning their vehicles. A survey was then conducted to see how these initiatives affected litter levels, mainly on Paisley Road West.

The findings revealed that:

  1. Placing bins strategically in specific locations proved to be four to five times more effective in reducing litter compared to random bin placement.
  2. Using both signs and bins together reduced littering by 25% more than using just a sign of being alone. This was observed in nearby areas.
  3. Changing the appearance of bins reduced litter by 45% nearby but only by 8% in other areas. When we combined rewrapping with nearby signage, the reduction increased to 58%.
  4. Isolated signage, without the presence of bins, had a limited overall impact on reducing roadside litter.

Insights from the Glasgow Initiative:

Gavin Ellis, Co-founder and Director of Hubbub, announced: “This signifies the first application of AI in charting roadside litter, and the knowledge acquired from this Glasgow initiative can be efficiently applied throughout the UK.

The information shows that drivers need an easier way to throw away trash. They should put trash cans where drivers stop and make sure they are easy to see and use. It’s crucial to motivate them to discard trash before resuming their journey.

Working together with highway agencies, local authorities, and businesses can solve the problem of roadside litter. Focusing on litter hotspots with a combination of bins and signs is a time and cost-effective strategy. We are eager to disseminate the findings from this study more broadly to ensure efforts are directed appropriately.”

Paul Wallace, the Campaign and Social Innovation Manager at Keep Scotland Beautiful, remarked: “Scotland is grappling with a litter crisis. Our research indicates that there is a significant amount of litter in our streets, public spaces, and roadsides. Therefore, we must explore innovative approaches to address this issue.

AI technology helps us collect data more efficiently. It allows us to focus our efforts better and improves the value of the data. We have gathered this data from surveys conducted across the country. By fostering cross-sector collaboration, we can ensure that initiatives like this align with the measures required to implement Scotland’s National Litter and Fly Tipping Strategy.

Since most people see littering as a problem, involving more people in fun activities can help. It’s commendable to witness Glasgow spearheading this research experiment.

Glasgow City Council’s Collaboration and Goals

A representative from Glasgow City Council expressed, “We were thrilled to collaborate with Hubbub on the Tidy Roadsides initiative. We appreciate any effort to encourage people to dispose of their trash correctly. It’s also essential to understand nudge theory methods that promote positive behavior changes and allocate resources effectively.

To stop littering, people should take their trash home or use public bins. This way, the council can use their funds more effectively for other purposes.”

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