Smart Solutions: Lucknow adopts RFID technology for better waste management

Lucknow adopts RFID technology for better waste management

In the past few years, information technology usage and penetration in the waste management segment have been growing with the deployment of innovative technology solutions. The government is making concerted efforts to improve waste management practices through its flagship schemes such as the Swachh Bharat Mission, the Smart Cities Mission and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation. The capabilities of urban local bodies (ULBs) in segregating, recycling and reusing waste have also been strengthened.

The introduction of smart technology solutions for waste collection and treatment has been one of the most remarkable initiatives taken so far. The use of wireless communication systems to ensure end-to-end tracking of waste has been another important step taken by a number of ULBs to ensure efficient waste management.

In a move to ensure efficient solid waste management in the city, the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) has adopted a number of advanced technology systems. One of the important initiatives has been the installation of radio-frequency identification (RFID) devices at the household level to ensure proper monitoring of door-to-door waste collection.

RFID is a type of wireless communication that uses electromagnetic fields to identify or track tags, attached to objects or people, in the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. As part of LMC’s initiative, an RFID tag will be placed outside every house, which will enable tracking of houses using GPS. A sanitation worker would be required to scan the barcode placed on the RFID tag with the help of a smartphone after collecting garbage from a house on a daily basis. The bar code will contain the GPS location of each house. As the sanitation worker scans it, an instant alert will be sent to the LMC control room. This will not only facilitate the authority in tracking door-to-door garbage collection, but can also be used as a method to check truancy of the sanitation workers.

To begin with, LMC will implement a pilot project in the Geetapalli ward, comprising about 49,000 households. The project will be extended to all the 110 wards under the jurisdiction of LMC, subject to the success of this pilot project. Reportedly, the pilot project is expected to be kicked off soon. The authority will first undertake the barcode installation work and commence the smart waste collection service thereafter. Currently, LMC’s private partner, Ecogreen Energy Lucknow Private Limited, has deployed around 300 workers in every ward of the city for daily door-to-door waste collection. In order to ensure the success of smart waste collection using RFID, LMC has earmarked funds worth Rs 1.5 million (about $20,780) to provide smartphones to all the sanitation workers. The phones allotted by the authority will have to be deposited with supervisors appointed by it at the end of the day.

Lucknow’s RFID project is inspired by the Pune Municipal Corporation’s waste management system, which includes initiatives like GIS mapping, communication and education awareness programmes and capacity building, along with implementation, monitoring and assurance for waste processing. LMC bought the RFID technology from a Pune-based firm at a cost of Rs 1 million (about $3,853.5).

Although smart waste collection technology solutions like the one adopted by LMC can help address the waste menace, it cannot completely eradicate the problem. Waste segregation at source and 100 per cent door-to-door collection, processing and treatment, and encouraging waste recycling and reuse are some of the important initiatives to be taken to ensure 100 per cent waste management. Equally important is the need to raise social awareness about the benefits of a clean environment and efficient waste management. The successful implementation of these initiatives will require a greater level of private participation, manpower training, implementation of rational user charges to increase revenue collection and customer/local participation.