GarbageGrid - City Garbage Collection Patterns

By Joey (11-June-2015)

I finally had a free weekend, and decided to work on some vis concepts. In this instance, I attempted to present data that is recorded on a daily basis. The visualisation is designed to more effectively identify patterns and anomalies at different time intervals (individual days, weeks, months, as well as years). It is like a yearly planner, but dates are aligned vertically by day of week rather than day of month.

To showcase this concept, I also needed to pick a real dataset to work with, which the drawing function will use to generate the grid on the fly (might take a couple of seconds to load below). After browsing through some public datasets, I decided to use garbage collection data for the city of Ballarat, Australia. You can grab the dataset in various formats here (I truncated the dataset for demonstration purposes as browsers on mobile devices might take too long to process 15 years of data).

Each square below corresponds to a garbage collection day. Vertical lines segment each month into weeks (start of each segment is a Monday). Hopefully which day of the month/year each square corresponds to is fairly intuitive. The colour of the square indicates how much garbage (in tonnes) was collected, with the legend providing a general colour guide using five number summaries from box plot analysis. Basically, the greener a square is, the more garbage was collected on that day by the council. You can also mouseover specific days to see exact collection tonnage for that day. Finally, gaps indicates days where no garbage collection took place, or it wasn't recorded.

From the vis above, it should be evident that weekend collections in Ballarat were rare for most of 2010-2013. Garbage Collection NEVER occurs on Sundays, New Year's Day or Christmas Day. It would also appear that from 2014 onwards, garbage collection on Saturdays became part of the schedule, although the amount of garbage collected was significanly less than the garbage on other days. There was a week in October 2012 where virtually no garbage collection took place (or was recorded), though I haven't figured out why. If you scrolled through the vis quickly, you may also notice that as the years went by, the amount of garbage collected becomes less predictable, but the overall trend is increasing.

It is also worthwhile noting that for each day of week, collection occurs in a different council area. This means that the vertical colour streaks you may notice has meaning!

That's all I got for now. Let me know what you think of this vis, whether it's useful or just plain confusing. Honestly I'm on the fence myself about whether this has any benefits over other visualisation options, but whatever; it has been created, so just enjoy it for what it's worth! (Oh and make sure to view this on a bigger screen; the mobile rendered version doesn't provide as much info). :)