Technology can be a dirty business.
Councilman Bill Green, dressed in a pressed pinstripe suit and flip-up sunglasses, led reporters on a field trip this afternoon to an illegally fenced-in block of Center City that hides 30 unregistered dumpsters, he says.
The councilman was there to demonstrate a solution to tracking those dumpsters Radio-frequency identification or RFID medallions that will help the city regulate unlicensed and unlawful containers. Green introduced legislation in February that would require that trash containers are fitted with the UHF chipset.
There are currently about 5,700 dumpsters registered with the city that generate $261,480 in licensing fees. With new legislation, Green hopes that the city could collect more than $2 million in fees. Additionally, Green hopes to cash in on uncollected citations. As of 2008, the city is owed a half million dollars from containers that violated dumpster laws.
As a dozen members of construction crews watched a crowd surround Green on the 1600 block of Ionic Street, between Chestnut and Sansom streets, he pointed a handheld device at a small, business-card sized medallion attached to a graffiti-covered dumpster overflowing with broken-down cardboard boxes.
“Simply aim the gun, shoot it, and it brings up information on who owns [the dumpster],” he yelled into microphones over a cacophony of noise caused by nearby work.
Though the handheld devices cost up to $4,000 per unit and up to 45 city employees could receive the devices, the technology investment would pay for itself within six months, Green says. Another possibility is that manufacturers would pay for the devices and receive a portion of the revenue generated by the city.
Moments earlier, told not to enter the city block by a worker – who noticed that Green was walking past the fence – Green introduced himself, and informed the worker of the offenses. “I’m going to show the press what’s going on,” he said, leading the group through the thin entranceway. Inside, trash piled atop dozens of the green, red and burgundy containers strewn across the asphalt and on the sidewalks of the hidden street.
Green has met opposition from the business community, including the Chamber of Commerce, over the introduction of stricter dumpster laws. “I expect the Chamber of Commerce to be against this,” he says. “But the whole goal of this is to improve quality of life in Center City.”
Later, as employees of Green’s office showed more of the refuge strewn about Ionic Street, a nearby resident slipped into the forbidden area to show support for the cause.
“It’s gotten worse on the block,” Karen Nicolini, dressed in business attire, told a city employee. “I’m glad you’re doing this,” she said, referring to similar dumpster concerns on 2000 block of Moravian Street.
There is currently an RFP issued for about 50 handheld devices that could be retrofitted with the RFD-reading technology. Green anticipates that the legislation will be passed in the fall when City Council returns from recess.
Companies: Philadelphia City Council
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