SINGAPORE - People who claim they litter because the rubbish bins are always full may not have that excuse for much longer.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) has started a pilot project to fit rubbish bins with sensors that can detect when they are full, and track whether waste collectors are doing their jobs properly.
The "litter-bin management system" could also help the collectors to quickly empty full bins and to identify areas that may need more of them.
According to government procurement website Gebiz, NEA awarded local start-up Mobiquest a contract worth nearly $1.5 million at the end of January to install and manage a system to monitor the locations of up to 10,000 bins and the fullness of an estimated 250 bins.
The value of the contract, of which two years are optional, includes four years of maintenance and other services related to the system.
Mobiquest yesterday declined to provide details of the project.
In its tender documents for the contract, NEA said it wanted the system to be able to "track and map the locations of litter bins, and to monitor the activities of the agency's cleaning service providers".
The Straits Times understands that the waste collectors' work could be tracked using a positioning sensor in the bins that correspond to an application on, say, their mobile phones.
This could tell NEA when the collectors were near the bins, and whether they were following their cleaning schedules.
NEA also wanted to be able to detect the bins' fullness so it could monitor both the collectors' performance as well as the public's use of the bins.
Environmentalists in Singapore said they hoped rubbish bins in places with high human traffic, such as bus interchanges, would have the fullness detection sensors as littering typically occurs in such areas.
Ms Melissa Tan, chairman of the Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore, said such sensors could be used to help alleviate labour shortages in the waste collection industry.
"This technology could help us to deploy manpower only when the bin is full," she said. "The public waste collectors now do daily collection for HDB blocks but sometimes that's not necessary."
Separately, Mobiquest will be showcasing its smart waste-management system, which has other features, at the upcoming CommunicAsia2015, EnterpriseIT2015 and BroadcastAsia2015.
The three events to be held at Marina Bay Sands from June 2 to 5 are expected to see about 1,800 exhibitors from 56 countries and regions. Entry to the exhibitions is free.
The spotlight this year is on smart technologies to better connect cities, governments, firms and people.
Other technologies to be demonstrated at the events will include DFRC Singapore's City Analyser, which uses sensors that measure mobile phone signals to collect anonymous data about crowd movements and behaviour.
Businesses and governments can use it to better understand people's habits and preferences.
Also, Singapore firm Skyshot will launch its TBox Titan, said to be a first-of-its-kind armoured and weather-proof time-lapse camera system.