- The city of Phoenix has partnered with Cisco Systems, the Institute for Digital Progress, US Ignite and Cox Communications to host a "hackathon" for new "zero waste" ideas.
- Once selected, 40 developers will work with the Phoenix Public Works Department and have access to internal datasets to come up with new ideas for increasing the city's diversion rate.
- Recruitment for the competition is open until next month, training happens on Feb. 11 and then the contestants will be eliminated through multiple rounds before the winner is selected on March 23. The winning team will get $20,000 and a chance to work with the Public Works Department on a pilot program for their idea.
Phoenix has a goal of 40% diversion by 2020 and "zero waste" by 2050, but the city's diversion rate is currently closer to 20%. A contract awarded for palm frond disposal last year is expected to help increase that number slightly, though not enough to make up the difference.
Some of the potential solutions that the city has asked developers to work on are finding a way to identify contamination through video or camera recognition, providing a live stream of a driver's route to engage residents and identifying the neighborhoods with the most contamination. These issues with contamination have been common in other cities with single-stream collection as well and a variety of ideas are being tested to work with residents.
Other cities with high "zero waste" targets have also been trying to improve their programs by bringing in outside perspectives. Sometimes this can involve consultants, other city agencies, or even research fellows as seen recently in Austin. As the industry continues to adapt to changing technology it will be interesting to see what a team of developers can bring to Phoenix's "zero waste" program.