By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Cheyenne Sanitation Department has found a way to take picking up trash into the 21st century.
The department recently installed new software in 13 of its 27 trucks designed to make drivers more efficient as the city collects an estimated 250 to 300 tons of garbage per day.
An added bonus? It gives drivers a way to prove that residents who may claim their homes were missed on trash pickup day actually forgot to put out the garbage.
Cheyenne public works director Vicki Nemecek told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that the new software, Fleetmind, was initially rolled out in December and will be added to more trucks in the coming weeks and months.
The software, working with a GPS tracker, provides a directions so trucks can more more accurately follow the city’s six routes and better serve the city’s nearly 30,000 residential and commercial customers.
This is the first software of its kind being used in Wyoming, as far as Nemecek knew, putting the city on the cutting edge of garbage collection.
“This software documents every stop we make,” Nemecek said. “So basically, the truck will drive down your street and pick up one of the containers, either trash, recycling or compost. So if they pick it up, the garbage can on the screen will turn green, showing it has been picked up. But if someone forgets to put out their can, they can push a button in their truck, and the can on the screen will turn yellow.”
Cameras on the truck can photograph the spot where the garbage cans are supposed to be, just in case a customer calls to say his or her home was missed on garbage day. It can also document extra items or bags placed outside of the trash container so customers can be charged accordingly.
“We’ll probably see our revenue have a slight increase with this way of charging,” Nemecek said. “We also offer to come back and pick up trash if a customer has forgotten to put their container out, but there is a charge to do so.”
If the sanitation workers happen to drive past a garbage can, the can’s display on the screen will turn red, indicating it has been missed and that workers will need to return to pick it up before heading back to Cheyenne’s transfer station.
Cheyenne garbage trucks pick up around 250 to 300 tons of trash per day, Nemecek said. The average person generates a little more than four pounds of trash per day and when multiplied by nearly 30,000 customers, the sanitation workers stay busy all year round.
The software and its installation cost the city about $400,000 and the city will also pay maintenance costs when needed. Nemecek said it was a process trying to find the best software that would work with the sanitation department and the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities, which does the trash billing for the city.
“We spent a little more time going out and looking at places that had this system, to get something we thought would really work for us,” she said. “We even had a couple people go so far as to Dallas and look at the system. In fact, it’s worked very well.”
Nemecek said the software has the Sanitation Department’s efficiency in the first four months of its operation. She said that on Thursday, there were only five missed stops in the city.
“I think that’s pretty good,” she said. “The best part is that we can identify those before the end of the day and send that driver back out to pick it up.
Nemecek intends to share information about the trucks not only with other Wyoming cities, but with officials in other states, as she is the president of the regional American Public Works Association chapter, which includes Wyoming, Montana and Illinois.