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Environmental sustainability and energy management are increasingly critical issues in people's lives and their livelihood. New and rapidly evolving tracking technologies are major tools for addressing these challenges because they provide visibility to the otherwise hidden processes of everyday infrastructures such as those involving waste removal. By revealing these processes and patterns, the technologies can help influence personal behavior with respect to environmental consciousness. Pervasive monitoring and analysis can also improve environmental sustainability by revealing inefficiencies in the waste-removal chain to municipalities and waste service providers, as well as monitoring compliance with environmental regulations. We present a tracking system for trash that demonstrates how pervasive monitoring can help to better reveal, understand, and improve the waste-management system. Custom-developed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) “trash tags” use the Global System for Mobile communication technology to provide both coarse localization and active return communications. We discuss methods for calculating and visualizing movement of trash and present preliminary results from the Trash Track project, including information about tag performance and discussion of some acquired traces. With the Trash Track project, the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory is exploring how new pervasive sensor technologies can be used to transform and understand cities.
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