The relationship between hardware and software in the application of the pay as you throw waste collection.
In the systems for applying the pay as you throw waste collection method, there is a close relationship between the hardware, the device that reads the RFID tag on the bag or bin, and the software that collects the data gathered during the pay as you throw reading and processes it. For municipalities that are moving from the waste tax (TAI) to the pay as you throw tariff system (TARIP), the choice of the most suitable hardware and software for their requirements is of fundamental importance and must be made in a fully informed way, evaluating the two components at the same time.
Choosing the hardware and software: preliminary operations
A municipal authority that is preparing to design a pay as you throw system needs to perform some preliminary analyses.
♦ Analysis of the area
The morphology of the scenery has a decisive impact on the hardware to adopt. A mountain location, with narrow roads and impracticable slopes, has different characteristics to a hill, which has less steep slopes, or a plain, just as a large city, with wide roads and ample spaces, is different to a small municipality or a village with lanes and narrow alleys.
♦ Analysis of the work process history
The analysis of the history serves to give the authority a precise dimension of the work process and to decide what type of hardware to use. By examining the historical data for the waste collection process, seaside municipality X, to give an example, will know that in the last five years, from June to September, it has hosted an average of 500 thousand tourists, who have consigned N tonnes of waste and that it needed 30% more operators compare to those used in the other periods of the year to manage the tourist peak.
♦ Analysis of the state of the art of the work force
Analysing the state of the art of the work force, by comparing the number of vehicles and operators used in the last few years, allow the authority to know, for example, that an average of 55 collection trucks, or 30 new trucks, 20 operators below 30 years or 40 above 50 years were used in the last five years. Thus, one gets an average that allows one to understand what the work force available is at that time in the area.
The characteristics of the hardware for the pay as you throw tariff
Taking into account the results of the preliminary analyses, the choice of hardware for the pay as you throw system must revolve around a device capable of:
♦ adapting to the environment and features of the area: for example, it is not possible to have a 20 tonne truck with a fixed antenna for reading the RFID tag circulating in a pedestrian historical centre or steep lane, whilst a wearable device possesses the necessary agility for this situation;
♦ give results that conform to and are near the historical data: the hardware must be reliable and measure data that intelligently comes near the area average. If an operator, during his/her historical shift, collects an average of 20 tonnes of general waste over 400 pick-ups in a certain area, the data measured by the hardware for pay as you throw metering must be consistent with the historical one. A municipality where the collection has been carried out door to door in pedestrian centres for years, using kits consisting of bags or bins, will get data that is consistent with the historical data when it adopts the pay as you throw tariff with a wearable device that accurately reads the RFID on the bag or bin; on the other hand, a place where the waste collection includes the lifting and emptying of large rubbish bins will get consistent data by reading the tag with the antenna on the vehicle;
♦ adhering as much as possible to the consolidated work process: the pay as you throw collection work process, carried out with the hardware to read the RFID tag, must not deviate too much from the one the work force is used to, so as not to encounter resistance from the operators.
The characteristics of the software for pay as you throw
Good software for pay as you throw collection must have a set of indispensable features, i.e. be:
♦ strictly related to the hardware: the software and hardware must be completely compatible, there must be no filters or communication problems;
♦ multi-platform and web-based: the dynamic software is multi-platform (it works on different operating systems) and web-based (all its functions are accessible with a normal web browser, without the need for installation);
♦ easily integrated: the software must be capable of dialoguing with the hardware, the municipal database and collection management;
♦ immediately accessible: good software is accessible, i.e. easy to use.