How West Memphis is going high-tech with trash collection — and what Leonardo DiCaprio has to do with it

The City of West Memphis’ public works department is partnering with Atlanta-based Rubicon Global to use smart technology to improve waste and recycling services.

Later this summer, West Memphis’ public works fleet will be plugged into a smartphone app and have onboard plug-in devices, allowing the city to use real-time monitoring to optimize routes.

“The RUBICONSmartCity platform will enable the City of West Memphis to enhance its waste and recycling offerings and outcomes, both in terms of sustainability and customer service,” said Michael Allegretti, senior vice president of policy and strategic initiatives for Rubicon. “Our proprietary technology, which is currently in use in more than 20 U.S. cities, will give West Memphis an array of new data and analytic capabilities.”

West Memphis has 13 trucks, servicing 8,500 locations. Those trucks will have smartphones loaded with the Rubicon hauler mobile app and will have onboard computer plug-in devices. That technology will flag locations, dispatch alerts and provide real-time GPS monitoring of each truck.

Rubicon says the app will help deliver more precise pick-up times and other operational efficiencies, leading to taxpayer savings. The app will also provide planning data to help West Memphis enhance recycling activities and reduce vehicle emissions.

Currently, the SmartCity platform is deployed in cities in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas. Rubicon has partnerships with the City of Atlanta, the City of Santa Fe and the Consolidated Government of Columbus, Ohio, in addition to the City of West Memphis.

Rubicon is in talks with other U.S. cities about implementing the SmartCity platform. The company typically starts a partnership with a free pilot program and transitions customers to a paid program. Pricing structures vary based on factors like size of the city and population.

“We’re excited to have this type of technology tested on our City’s fleet,” said West Memphis Mayor Bill Johnson. “We believe it will help provide safer, more reliable waste service to our residents and employees.”

Last year, MBJ’s sister publication, the Atlanta Business Chronicle, wrote about Rubicon raising $75 million in venture capital and noted one of the company’s investors, actor Leonardo DiCaprio. It also wrote about the company receiving a patent for a “method, system, and vehicle for autonomous waste removal.”

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