Litter Index Explained.

The City of Philadelphia Litter Index is a map-based survey of the litter conditions of the City’s streets, parks and recreation sites, public school sites, green stormwater infrastructure, river ways, and vacant lots.

The index is digitized using cloud-based surveys taken on tablets using GPS coordinates to ensure accuracy. Along with an estimated litter count on an asset or property, field surveyors also give a 1-4 litter rating based on metrics from Keep America Beautiful, with a rating of 1 being little to no litter, 2 being litter in the amount that can be picked up by one person, 3 being litter in the amount that would need a team to clean up and 4 being litter that would require a large cleanup effort and/or heavy machinery to remove debris.

The color coordinated Litter Index map shows block and neighborhood litter ratings throughout the city for the 2018 Litter Index survey. While our survey rating scale is measured from 1 to 4, the colors on the map are based on standard deviation, which better reflects the differences between the average scores of the neighborhoods. On the map, green represents the cleanest areas, while dark red represents the most littered areas. When you search an address, you will see an average litter rating for the immediate neighborhood as well as a weighted average for your hundred block based on the street and lots on that block.

To aid us in community organizing, the Litter Index application above also provides a sidebar with information related to the resources an area has to encourage residents to do their part to keep their neighborhoods clean. If you search your address and find that your area does not have a particular resource, please click on its link to find out how to bring it to your neighborhood.

Year-to-year Changes

You can also toggle between 2017 and 2018 maps to see how your block and neighborhood litter scores have changed over the first two years of the city-wide survey. City-wide average Litter Index scores differed slightly between 2017 and 2018, from an average score of 1.86 to an average score of 1.92. Surveying scope and improved training, as well as expected daily variation in litter conditions throughout the surveying period, contribute to this change in average city-wide scores. Surveyors reached more blocks and more public parks in 2018, which in some cases meant documenting a moderately-to-heavily littered block or area that was not included in 2017. The best estimate of litter conditions across the city may not be the score in 2017 or 2018 on its own, but both together. Learn more about what the Litter Index data tells us and how it’s being used in the blog post and full 2019 Litter Index Report.

It’s the goal of the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet that the Litter Index be the tool that allows all of our neighborhoods to become cleaner, because Zero Starts With One. And a cleaner Philadelphia starts with you.

Video: The Litter Index Explained

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