Illegal dumping, which is called fly tipping in Britain, was a real problem for five London neighborhoods. That’s why the South London Partnership is currently funding and rolling out a significant ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) InnOVaTe program to manage and mitigate new challenges within the area. To combat illegal dumping they enlisted the aid of UK IoT surveillance company iDefigo, who used Matroid’s Computer Vision software as their AI platform to produce a 21st century dumping detector.
Recent government figures show fly tipping costs London taxpayers about $460 million a year - with over 60,000 illegal dumping incidents involving construction, demolition, and excavation material in 2020 and 2021, an increase of 18% from 2019-2020.
Items such as soil and aggregates, mattresses, chemicals, discarded house contents, furniture, and miscellaneous builder waste are dumped in streets, down alleyways and on housing estates. This is unsightly, and often a danger to local residents. Professional gangs dump tons of waste on industrial and remote sites as well.
As one of the zero tolerance programs, the local councils promote a campaign called ‘Let’s SCRAP fly tipping’ designed to alert residents and business owners to the different forms of fly tipping, and to encourage them to report it. But better surveillance was needed.
To supplement the ‘Let's SCRAP fly tipping’ initiatives, employing surveillance cameras with the ability of recording, policing, and combating illegal dumping is an important part of the overall solution.
iDefigo requested Matroid’s assistance to quickly build an illegal dumping detector. A proof of concept model with the South London Partnership launched in February and ran through May of this year. Since then, the detectors have been in full production.
“Using Matroid's end-to-end computer vision studio, we were able to build and deploy a fly tipping model for iDefigo in record time,” said Matroid’s Jeff Zeller.
The smart cameras can detect, inform, and support prosecutions or fines in hot spots. This enables local enforcement officers to monitor activity and help issue penalties, which reduces illegal dumping and provides a substantial return on the investment of IoT technology.
Matroid and iDefigo’s AI-powered Smart Camera solution has delivered immediate benefits for the South London Partnership where the cameras have been positioned. There has been a significant reduction in illegal dumping incidents in both residential and industrial estate areas.
Some areas have seen an 80 percent reduction in illegal dumping, eliminating the need for costly and time consuming clean-ups and waste disposal. The BBC recently filmed locally about the project and captured the sentiments of locals.
“What a difference it’s made,” said one resident. “Instead of waking up each morning to find all this ‘stuff’ that appeared overnight.”
The cameras have also helped trace builders who were dumping asbestos in housing areas where they weren’t even building because they knew they couldn’t get away with placing the asbestos at their own site.
“Matroid enabled iDefigo to quickly and efficiently build and deploy a custom computer vision model to detect fly tipping incidents across a group of London Boroughs," said iDefigo Group Commercial Director Scott Wattie. "The technologies were a key driver in our local government client decreasing fly tipping events by 80% in areas monitored by iDefigo’s Smart Camera solution."