Mapping Dog Poo Bins (part 1 – acquiring the data)

We were asked by our comms team if we could help them out with a campaign they are running – #BeResponsible – encouraging Trafford’s dog-owning residents and visitors to pick up their dog’s poo, and put it in a bin, rather than leaving it on the pavement, or (worse), hanging it from a tree.

They specifically wanted a map of bins in Trafford that they could use in promotional literature to devise a series of dog-walking routes.

Now unlike streetlights, schools or trees, we did not already have bins (dog poo, or classic) geocoded, so we set about finding out what we could about bins in Trafford.

It turns out that Trafford, with a population of 228,000 plays host to 1,200 public bins. This represents a rate of 5.3 bins for every 1,000 people. I do not know how this compares to other areas, but what I do know is that this data is available in this format:

DogPooSpreadsheet

The format of the data clearly makes it impossible to simply drop into our GIS, so I had to come up with a potential alternative. In theory, it is possible to use a smartphone to physically capture the lat and long of the bins, by taking a photo with geotagging enabled. By focussing on parks, we could draw up routes and maps for each ward in Trafford (30 parks, across 21 wards). This geotagging could be performed by the people who empty the bins, or it could be that members of the public are encouraged to take a #dogpoobinselfie with geo-data enabled, that they could send to us (not by twitter, though – the relevent Exif metadata does not transfer over Twitter).

As a proof of concept, I agreed to go round my local park (Woodheys Park, in Sale) photographing and geotagging all bins in the park:

This was actually pretty easy – a case of walking round the park (improved health and wellbeing) looking for bins (kids – we’re doing  a TREASURE HUNT), and taking a photo when one is found.

Once back at a computer, the photos can be transferred, and the standard Windows Photo Viewer allows you to view some Exif data:

Exif Data Sample
Exif Data in Windows Photo Viewer

BUT – it is useful to know that if the file is uploaded to an online Exif viewer utility, like View Exif Data, more data is available.

So far, then, I’ve managed to get one park’s worth of data (plus a couple of other bins that I’ve seen as I go about my daily business). But what to do with it next?

Part two of this post will go over the more interesting side to this sort of exercise – adding the bins to OpenStreetMap, producing an interactive map with Leaflet.js, and other visualisations. I will also look at getting proper dog-fouling data from our CRM system, and see what happens when we put bin data on top of dog poo reports.

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