Waste collection could be seen by some as the epitome of a “dirty job,” as workers pick up discarded items and haul them away to landfills. But behind the scenes, it’s more high tech than most people realize.

For example, Republic Services, a national waste disposal service in the U.S., combines GIS and other public data in an advanced auditing service to give cities and counties a more accurate count of the number of units the company serves for them. For example, if a customer is placing additional trash bins in front of a vacant home, GIS-based auditing data enables the municipality to see where that extra refuse and cost are coming from and investigate the matter.

GIS-based auditing assists cities and counties in preparing tax rolls for billing. The more reliable numbers also help optimize collection routes, reducing emissions and improving the environment.

“From a reporting standpoint, it is absolutely critical for these municipalities to get it right and I believe it is becoming harder and harder for them with fewer staff members than what they have seen in the past,” said Lance Carlson, senior manager of operations research and GIS for Republic Services.

While the auditing technology is used “quite a bit” nowadays, the company would like to expand its use to every municipality it serves. Most of the electronic information the company uses in its auditing is culled from public data sets, so additional effort from local governments is usually not required.

Carlson explained that the service primarily uses his team’s GIS resources, and it covers a lot of the work that would traditionally be handled by municipalities.

“We want to make it as simple as possible for them,” Carlson said. “We understand that with the way budgets are today, it is absolutely critical that if we are going to do something like this, that it doesn’t have any impact on municipality staff.”

Read about more dirty jobs in government.

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. Brian started his journalism career in 1998, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y. He's also a member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and competes in regional tournaments throughout Northern California and Nevada.