Innovation That Matters

Cortexia helps cities co-ordinate services for keeping the streets clean | Photo source Pixabay

AI-powered waste management keeps city streets clean


Vehicle-mounted cameras track waste as small as cigarette butts

Spotted: Since 2007, more than half of the world’s population has lived in urban, rather than rural, communities. And infrastructure teams have more to manage each year as city densities grow. Maintaining a healthy built environment is a priority for many governments, with rubbish management an important part of that.  

Without accurate and timely data, however, city officials are hard-pressed to assign and prioritise resources in a flexible manner. Rubbish accumulation varies greatly based on the day of the week and community routines. To tackle this challenge, Swiss company Cortexia uses artificial intelligence analysis that enables teams to see in near-to-real time where waste is located, when it tends to appear, and how current management plans map against what is on the streets.

Cameras mounted on trucks, cars, public transport vehicles, and bikes gather images on an area that are then time and location stamped for use in the analytics. The AI identifies the different types of waste visible in the photos, and users of the system can track changes over time as well as set alerts to sound when critical levels are reached.

Governments use the information to allocate cleaning time and equipment as needed, including running public information and health campaigns to eliminate specific problems. The Cortexia team provides support to users to help make best use of the insights garnered by the analysis.

Encouraging citizens to contribute to the greening of their environments is a common theme in the innovations Springwise is spotting around urban cleanliness. In the UK, a prize draw provides an incentive for individuals to recycle, and in France, “gum boards” collect used chewing gum to be upcycled into skateboard wheels.  

Written by: Keely Khoury



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