Birmingham, Alabama, selects Routeware to add efficiency to collection

The $1.1 million deal with the Portland, Oregon, software company will help with routing, accountability and education.

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The Birmingham, Alabama, City Council has voted to approve an ordinance authorizing the city's mayor to execute a contract with Routeware Inc. to provide route optimization, accountability, education and other efficiencies to improve the city’s recycling and waste collection program.

City council voted 8-0 in favor of passing the ordinance during a Nov. 29 meeting.

According to the meeting agenda, the agreement with Portland, Oregon-based Routeware will cost $491,254 in the first year, $303,495 in the second year and $327,894 in the third year of the contract. The total for the contract is just greater than $1.1 million.

During the meeting, Birmingham Director of Public Works Josh Yates said Routeware would provide route mapping that will help fill knowledge gaps left by retiring employees.

“Each day when we have drivers and supervisors leave, that’s historical knowledge that walks out the door with them,” Yates explained. “This system includes an iPad in the truck so that any driver … knows the route they’re driving.”

He also said the system would provide camera monitoring that would enable the city to know whether residents properly take their waste and recyclables to the curb.

“When we go by the house, there’s video showing we did our job or what was out there that hindered us from doing our job,” he said.

The Routeware software also will help the city create more efficient routing.

“This software is used to create an opt-in and opt-out system for our recycling program,” Yates said. “So basically, when we get our data on the recycling and who wants to recycle and who is recycling, we can build routes around that, so we can make sure we pick them up in an efficient and effective manner.”

Routeware should help the city reduce the number of missed addresses and complaints that it receives under the current collection system, he added.

City Councilman Darrel O’Quinn asked whether there would be a solution for residents who need more space than the 96-gallon containers provide.

Yates said he hopes to provide a mechanism in the future that would enable citizens to order a second cart and sign up for additional collection service. In the meantime, residents should not purchase containers on their own.

City Councilwoman Valerie Abbott said she believes “this Routeware will be a miraculous change” for the city. She says the education portion of the agreement ought to include information about the importance of recycling.

“If all that stuff doesn’t go to landfill, we don’t have to pay millions and millions and millions [of dollars] for new landfill space,” she said. “And when our landfills are full, what are we going to do? There’s only so much space in the world.”

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