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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Compost Analytics for the City

This is a classic example of vehicle routing using analytics.  I have worked on problems as disparate as ambulance routing in semi rural counties and routing log trucks to pulp mills, to minimizing the travel of fork lifts in product warehouses.  We called these methods 'operations research'.  They are about doing things smarter, by being faster and cheaper.

Examples where the profit margin of an operation is small to begin are particularly interesting. This video outlines the example of gathering trimmings and cast offs from San Francisco restaurants and efficiently getting the resulting compost to vineyards to use for fertilizer.  How should I route trucks though complex city streets, do pickups and then get the result to far away vineyards while minimizing costs? It is all about becoming smarter using analytical methods.

The company doing the work to take trimmings from recycle bins to composting center to vineyard is done by Recology Inc  with data and analytics help from IBM Partner Key Info Systems. More on that collaboration.

Problems like routing are combinations of data, timing, resource and goal management.  With the data often changing based on the dynamics of streets, labor and schedule.  All needed to ultimately feed the smarter city.  Mining data for doing something effectively is not unlike mining minerals. Or mining compost for its value in agriculture.

More about the analytics dimensions of these problems.  Also this blog often covers the topic of analytics for any size company.  Posts about that here.   #Midsize

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

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