Have my bins been collected yet?

As I'm writing this now, I'm actually writing about a real user need I really have right now this minute.

Our garden waste bin is full. We should have put it out two weeks ago, but we forgot. Meanwhile, there are a load of garden waste cuttings on the ground waiting for an empty garden waste bin to put them in, and there are also a load of foetal garden waste cuttings growing in the ground waiting for another empty garden waste bin so they can be turned into actual garden waste cuttings.

The problem: I forgot to put the garden waste bin out last night.

I know that They collect the garden waste later in the day than in the still-in-bed hours that the main rubbish is collected. For 'reasons' we're currently living about a mile away from our house, so it would be annoying to run over and put it out now on the offchance they've not collected the garden waste yet. But even if we were talking about an early morning collection and I was still in bed rather than writing a blog post before starting work, it's a common scenario - you forgot to put the bins out last night, you don't know if the van has been down your street yet, you'd be willing to quickly get dressed if it hasn't but you're not going to risk it if you don't know.

Years ago I used to comment that the amount of money and effort councils put into systems to enable people to check their bin day was probably not money well spent, because back then [a] most councils collected most bins every week, and [b] for the most part most people need to only check their bin day once, when they move in - something you could just as easily do by asking the neighbour when they bring round the cup of tea and a cake for you, or at the very least happen to notice when you see everybody else on the street putting their bins out.

Time passes and bin day itself is somewhat more complicated for most people, but also 'when is it my bin day?' checkers for many councils are much simpler to implement, because many councils have their bins management systems which can relatively easily be connected to the website, so the facility is just a simple add-on to an existing pair of systems rather than fundamentally new development being done.

Similarly the question of whether the bins have yet actually been collected should be a relatively simple matter, technologically speaking, for councils to surface to citizens on the website - because for many councils, that same bins management system is also connected to GPS trackers in the bin wagon cabs, with the intention being that as bin crews are progressing along they're marking off the streets they've collected and anything noteworthy on touchscreen devices in real time.

Whether that information could be presented back to the citizen on the website as richly as an Amazon-style map showing how many streets on the route the wagon is or whether it simply shows collected / not yet collected / missed (reason) could be a choice we could make.

Any council fancy being the first?

[Time passes]

It transpires Bromley Council were already the first!

Scrennshot from a council website showing what time a citizen's bins were collected