I was quite pleased to see a press release coming out of the City of Cape Town saying that essentially they were starting to fit all existing 240-litre municipal wheelie bins with identification tags to ensure more efficient service provision and revenue accuracy.

The tags will allow the City to monitor each bin serviced and to identify bins that are lost, stolen, or illegally serviced without being City property (i.e. someone sneakily bought an extra bin for their property from a plastics shop and now puts double the refuse out whilst only paying for a single load.)

Apparently the City services in excess of 800 000 wheelie bins each week, and this service is provided by means of personnel, trucks and wheelie bins at a cost of almost R1 billion per annum. In rendering the service, virtually every public street in the entire municipal area is traversed each week.

Cape Town City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg had the following to say on the matter: “The tagging of bins will allow for the service of each individual bin to be monitored. This will provide the means to improve operational efficiencies and effectiveness in managing labour, vehicles and services because the date, time, and location of each bin lifted will be recorded. This innovative project forms part of our commitment to creating a well-run city”.

Cool, because what that basically means is that we’re getting another large data set to start mining. Truly this is the age of Big Data, which as a software engineer needless to say excites me – however, and this excites me more, the prospect that maybe now my bin will finally stop being stolen is even better. There is nothing more annoying than watching bin pickers strolling around the town pushing bins around when you just know that some hapless bloke is going to arrive home from work that evening to find his municipal bin gone (but not with the wind).


Anyway, the project will be managed by external service provider RAMM Technologies (a company currently under tender by the City and which provides services to several departments in the Utility Services Directorate) and which has been appointed by the Solid Waste Management Department’s Collections and Drop-offs Branch to perform the refuse bin identification exercise. It will see numerous crews, consisting of RAMM contracted staff, moving throughout the city in various suburbs over the next couple of months. These crews will be tagging each individual refuse bin in order to compile a geo-database of all the City’s mobile refuse bins.

For the public to easily identify these crews, RAMM crew members will be required to carry an identification card containing the following information:

  • City of Cape Town logo
  • Photograph of the crew member’s face
  • Member’s surname
  • Member’s first name/s
  • RAMM operations’ telephone number

For more information, residents can contact RAMM Technologies on 086 111 7266 or send an e-mail to ops@ramm.co.za.

Alternatively, the City can be contacted on 021 444 7127 or via e-mail to HeidiCarla.deBeer@capetown.gov.za.