Use Cases of Internet of Things: Smart Urban Waste Management

The world is no longer the same. Back in the year 2000, we had 6 billion humans living on the Planet Earth and 500 Million devices connected to the internet. This situation swelled in 2008, the number of devices connected to the Internet exceeded for the first time the number of people on Earth. Today there are 7.7 billion people in the world while there are 31 billion connected devices.

When things can sense the environment by taking measurements and communicate via a spectrum of mediums, things become powerful tools for understanding complexity and responding to it effectively. Though such smart devices can interact with humans, they are likely to be interacting even more with each other automatically, without humans in the loop, updating themselves, their daily operations and schedules.

This evolution marks indeed a technological disruption, which heralds the onset of a new paradigm for the relationship between human beings and machines.

The implementation of smart urban waste management will allow a more efficient waste collection and optimizing the way in which it is performed today. In addition to this, stimuli can be brought forward to encourage people to produce less waste and move more towards recycling.

Smart urban waste management systems will provide valuable information to the masses by encouraging and promoting a simplified and environment friendly way of collecting waste.

This can be achieved by identifying and emptying bins and containers when they are close to their fill level but not overflowing at private households, enterprises and public areas.


The Internet of Things will help us optimize processes that are happening in the real world.

Logistics, utilities or event operation are some of the complex tasks that are influenced by many parameters that are today estimated or simply unknown to us.

The IoT empowers comprehensive data collection of information on a much complex granularity and with more precision than ever before.

In the “Smart Urban Waste Management” application scenario garbage collection can be optimized e.g. in terms of route optimization based on fill levels. Empty bins are bypassed, full bins are emptied, and broken bins can be repaired quickly.

We all know that Optimization saves time and reduces costs — an important factor for today’s economically challenged cities. Optimization is, however, a challenge in such scenarios. The development of such algorithms that are able to discover the right patterns out of masses of data and feed those results into dependable business processes will need to go through much experimentation until the right level of confidence is achieved for real time application.


The Internet of Things will enable a world where we can have more incentives and not just financial incentives.

Financial incentives have been employed for decades with a moderate degree of success — in some areas they work; in others, they have limited impact. It is all about instant feedback.

Computer games can be considered as great examples where there is always a task to be accomplished that is challenging enough to involve in but easy enough to achieve at the same time. In the “Smart Urban Waste Management” application scenario, citizens get instant feedback in the form of ‘green credits’ (a virtual currency) for their behavior — overuse of a resource (in this case the bin space is the resource) is ‘punished’ by removing credits; and efficient use is rewarded with ‘green credits’.

Bottom Line

From thickly populated cities to smaller rural communities, waste management systems keep our residences and communities free from unwanted mess.

Although these waste management services are present in nearly every community, the industry’s existing operating standards have proven to be highly inefficient and resource-intensive.

This ineffectiveness is largely due to obsolete manual collection methods and logistical processes which rely least on efficient data-driven solutions.

Internet of Things revolution presents an opportunity to waste management industry to develop and implement smart solutions to our problems. From waste bins equipped with fill-sensors, to data-based management and logistics platforms, the industry will soon start shifting into a cleaner, more efficient part of modern life with the implementation of IoT.