Where is the litter in SoMa West, San Francisco?

HomeRubbish Labs

A little about me

I’m Alex, and I am an undergraduate student at the University of North Texas studying Data Science! I am not your typical college student; I am a 26-year-old veteran with an adorable corgi that can shred some pavement on a skateboard.

A cute corgi dog lying on the ground
An adorable little potato, whose name is Link.

I found Rubbish from their Earth Day Reddit AMA, and loved their iOS App and how they use data to track and clean litter. As someone who loves doing fun things with data and loves to help make a cleaner world, I wanted to create something to aid the fight against trash!

Why track litter?

When I first met the Rubbish team, they told me they loved to do two things — picking up trash and tracking it! I absolutely love this stance because it provides an avenue to clean streets in a smart way. Data is becoming the world’s most valuable, over-saturated resource. It is extremely applicable to many industries, such as being used to improve car-safety ratings or to analyze the trends of global pandemics. While Rubbish isn’t doing either of those things, they do something extremely unique. The data they track can be used for cities to identify litter hot-spots, decide on more efficient trash can placements, and best of all: inspire the community to clean up their streets!

I created a dashboard

A heatmap of SoMa West in San Francisco highlighting areas of various categories of trash
The cleanup was led by the SoMa West Community.

Data from an audit led the SoMa West Community: click here to view the dashboard!

The data used for this dashboard is from an event that was held by the Rubbish team and the SoMa West community. They brought together 22 local volunteers to audit litter, with the goal of improving their community’s cleanliness. What this dashboard does is display their cleanup in a way that enables anybody to find patterns, find hot-spots, or use this data effectively. It allows you to look at every item picked up, or issue logged. You can divide SoMa West into 4 sections or 40,000 sections, to see which has the most litter, or graffiti. This puts their data back into their own hands, quite literally. (You can even download the original data, or all the code for yourself!)

I hope this dashboard will encourage others to help join the fight against trash, and to encourage other data-savvy humans to better the world through the use of technology!

Where to find me

If you’re curious about more of the work I do, you can check me out at my personal website, on my GitHub, or if you just want to see a fluffy butt shred harder than Tony Hawk.

Written by
Alexander Kahanek