Litter Intelligence is a long-term programme that embodies the philosophy: “We cannot improve what we do not measure.”
Led by New Zealand charity Sustainable Coastlines and working in close collaboration with the Ministry for the Environment, Department of Conservation and Statistics New Zealand, the programme collects litter data to provide insights about the litter found on the beaches of Aotearoa, which can then be turned into clear actions for the communities that enjoy them.
After initially opting for an off the shelf solution for the data visualisation, users began to spot opportunities for improvement; the litter data wasn’t as easy to understand as it could be and information couldn’t be filtered in desired ways. Ultimately this made it hard to prioritise actions and mobilise citizen scientists without clear and easy-to-read data, so Sustainable Coastlines called in RUSH to reimagine the insights dashboard.
We designed and developed a Litter Intelligence insights dashboard, which is an incredibly effective tool for anyone, from citizen scientists and statisticians through to Kiwi school children.
The visually clear and engaging interface presents users with view and filter choices to help them dive into and better understand the data and develop insights that are relevant to their work or local area. This includes options to filter by location, litter type or time, as well as the ability to create comparisons within those same filter sets. For example, Auckland vs Wellington or this year vs last year, or plastic vs rubber.
Litter Intelligence is now monitoring over 180 beaches around Aotearoa, allowing environmental data to be submitted by communities at the highest standard, so it can be used by government agencies for national and international reporting.
For Sustainable Coastlines, the dashboard allows the litter data to be more widely used and understood, inspiring motivation and action especially among citizen scientists.
The Litter Intelligence programme’s ironclad data is already making an impact as mentioned in Sustainability Sciences’ article ‘Mapping citizen science contributions to the UN sustainable development goals’, earlier this year.