As a responsible “owner” of a two dogs, I never leave dog poop anywhere other than the garbage can. As an environmentalist, I also do what I can to minimise the impact of of my dogs waste – using my partner’s patented multiple-poop in one biodegradable bag method. However, the problem persists that some people are not as considerate when it comes to picking up after Fido, and this gives the rest of us a bad name. Waste such as this, while biodegradable when in the right place (i.e. not on a concrete side walk), makes living and playing in urban environments less desirable to many people.
In the spirit of design based on a theory of fun, Terra México launched a “pilot program” in order to forever be remembered as that company that gave the public free wifi in exchange for poo. According to several articles on the topic (I thought, and still kind of think, this was more a publicity stunt than an actual device), Terra placed a receptacle in 10 different public parks, which are linked to a WiFi base station and WiFi antennas mounted throughout these parks. When someone throws a bag of poop into the bin, the WiFi system is powered up. Just how long the wifi is available is dependent on the weight of said bag – more poop, more wifi.
Sure, apparently some people just threw other garbage in the bins in order to take advantage of the opportunity – but garbage in the bin is still better than garbage on the streets. While this humorous campaign is probably nothing more than a momentary exercise in driving attention to a brand, it does demonstrate how modern sensing devices can be used to reward desirable behaviour – in this case cleaning up waste in public spaces.
What would make this project more sustainable would be to reward people for composting this waste, rather than simply picking it up. An example would be the coming together of Poo Wifi and The Park Spark, a Methane Digester that uses animal waste as a source of fuel for a park lamp. That would allow for two rewards with one action.