Big Brother interested in your garbage

George Orwell probably didn't have this in mind when he wrote '1984' and the phrase 'Big Brother Is Watching You.'

'Big Brother' in this case is a camera and software system tied to the Residential Curbside Cart System.

Kelowna Council will be asked Monday to pony up approximately $1.50 to $1.70 per household per year for on-board computers, software, data collection and data hosting services not included in the initial phase of the project.

Garbage collection trucks have been equipped with cameras since the program was introduced and all carts have been equipped with a Radio Frequency Identification System (RFID).

With the addition of the new data recording software, each cart would be scanned as it is tipped, providing information such as:
  • Which cart was tipped
  • Owner and address of cart
  • Date cart was tipped
  • Time cart was tipped.

    The city says it expects to cover the cost of the system through cost reductions occurring in the current recycling program.

    Between January and June of this year, net costs of recycling processing are close to $2 per household less than budgeted and this trend is expected to continue.

    In his report for council, Utility Services Manager Don Degen says along with collecting basic data, the system makes it easy for collection drivers to gather additional information that may result in further contact with the customer, or constitute an offence such as an illegal item in the cart, a cart in a bike lane or an overloaded cart.

    He adds a fully functioning system could collect data necessary should the city move to a user pay system in the future where households could be charged based on how frequently their cart was tipped instead of the current flat rate.

    The Regional District, Peachland and Lake Country have already approved the system while West Kelowna said no.

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