Councils in England dealt with nearly one million instances of fly-tipping in the year running up to the start of the pandemic, and the impact of the numerous lockdowns since then has worsened the problem still.
Closed waste facilities and many houses deciding to have a ‘clear out’ has led to mountains of household rubbish, electrical goods, construction waste and vehicle parts piling up on our pavements, roads, highways and countryside.
Three businesses have collaborated to create a bespoke solution to the problem: WasteWatch Cam.
WasteWatch Cam is a camera system that harnesses advanced technology combined with real-time number plate recognition to not only detect the fly-tipping offence but also see to it that the individual is held accountable.
Experts in human, vehicle and object detection, Business Insight 3 (Bi3), created the technology behind the camera solution, combining enterprise grade video analytics, which learns scenes and objects through patented algorithms, with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR).
The technologies are linked via a software application that has been created specifically for this purpose.
Kingdom Systems, which is part of the larger Kingdom Services Group, then set about physically building and designing the camera hardware that this technology could sit within.
Once in place, the camera not only detects the car or person on-site, as well as the item they are discarding of, but also identifies the offender in real-time. This data is then raised as an instant alert, with all the supporting details, passed to the experienced team at Kingdom L A Support who take immediate action in the form of fines, warnings and – where that is not followed through – prosecution.
Due to this, WasteWatch Cam is a completely end-to-end solution where every part of the process is managed with little to no input needed from the local authority and its stretched resources.
This makes it very beneficial financially too. Previously, authorities would need to spend time hunting through the rubbish to find any proof of addresses that could hold the fly-tipper accountable, then spend money clearing the rubbish.
WasteWatch Cam, on the other hand, is often completely free to councils as long as a certain, reasonably low number of offences are detected.
Councils in Barnet and Dartford are currently using the system. Within just the first week of being installed, Dartford’s WasteWatch captured and reported seven fly-tipping offences – one of which is due to go to court in the next few months.
Due to this success, the council has chosen to implement another system in the area.
John Roberts, Head of Service at Kingdom L A Support, said: “You need only read a newspaper to see the sheer number of fly-tipping incidents going on in your area. The problem is getting worse and – not only is it an eye-sore, but it’s also damaging our environments, local habitats as well as taking valuable time and resources away from our local councils.
“I believe a huge part of it is down to what is often referred to as the ‘broken window theory’. This is when the action of one person makes another think it’s okay to do the same. For example, if one person leaves a bag of waste near to a collection bin but not in it, then another person will just add to that pile.
“Not only does this make for a warm place for rodents to breed but if the bags get wet – which happens a lot in England – then companies are also not legally allowed to take them leading to an ever-increasing build-up of rubbish.”
Richard Eaves, Head of Business Intelligence at Bi3, added: “We created Waste Watch to be the best possible solution to the problem. With its 24/7 monitoring, real-time detection and completely end-to-end management – it moves beyond just acting as a deterrent, it tackles the vast problem of throwing waste from vehicles and fly-tipping at its core.
“It’s great to see local authorities already reaping the rewards of WasteWatch”, said Craig Walton, Head of Kingdom Services, “We hope that it will provide a real step forward, for the benefit of our local councils, our communities and our much-loved green spaces.”
WasteWatch is supported by Clean Up Britain and ClearWaste.