DeKalb to use new tech to curb illegal dumping
In a move that some might call the next step to an Orwellian society, at last month’s regular meeting of the DeKalb City Council, city leaders agreed to enter into a partnership with a media outlet that will give them the ability to identify and track would be illegal trash dumpers, in an effort to curb the activity and cleanup the city.
The technology that will be implemented in the project is known as geofencing. Geofencing allows a user to setup a virtual perimeter around a specified area, and then monitor the activity within that area, It is defined as a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area. A geo-fence could be dynamically generated—as in a radius around a point location, or a geo-fence can be a predefined set of boundaries (such as school zones or neighborhood boundaries).
DeKalb Mayor Lowell Walker was instrumental in seeing the technology put in place in DeKalb, and stated in the meeting, “With this boundary in place they will be able to detect any device such as a cell phone or tablet or anything that has an IP address attached to it will register to this marketer. And then the marketer will send them messages similar to “hey did you know that it is illegal to dump garbage here? You might want to go to a landfill with this.” Once they contact that person’s IP address, that IP address can be followed by this marketing campaign. They will track this person to see if they are still going back and dumping or if they decided to go to the landfill. They will know if they are going to the landfill, they can follow them. They can also retroactively go back 365 days and find out where they have been every day that way. Our intent is not to capture people for something they may or may not have done, of course we don’t know exactly what they are doing there, but if they are going down the road to the end of the road that has a big trash pile we know they are probably not down there to have a picnic.”
The project was made available to DeKalb through the Ark-Tex Council of Governments. ATCOG’s Paul Prange presented the project to city leaders, at the behest of Mayor Walker.
Prange told the Tribune, “The Ark-Tex Council of Governments (ATCOG) will be sponsoring an educational outreach campaign focusing on illegal dumping within our nine-county region. Funding is provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Solid Waste Pass-Through Grant Program. We anticipate starting this campaign in January of 2020 and continuing until June 2020. The purpose of this outreach campaign is to bring awareness of a growing problem that exists within many of the communities in our region. Most citizens are unaware of the serious fines and punishment associated with illegally dumping items in the State of Texas and we hope to educate those who are engaging in this illegal activity, in an effort to change their behavior. Not only is illegal dumping unsightly, but it can cause significant threats to human health and the environment.”
Walker and Prange noted in the meeting that Bowie County Fire Marshall Scottie Taylor had pointed to DeKalb as a prime opportunity for the project. Prange noted that he had worked with Taylor in the past on a camera program to curb illegal dumping. When contacted about the work, Taylor told the Tribune that he had worked with ATCOG in the past, but in fact, this new geofencing initiative had taken the funding away from his efforts to go around the county and cleanup existing dump sites.
Walker concluded, “…it’s a really nice enforcement tool. And it’s a good tool to get messages out to our public to let them know that you can’t just do this to your community. Communities will be as polluted as the citizens allow them to be.”
The city was expecting to start the project in January.