OpenLitterMap.com (Registered 27th July 2015, Launched 15th April 2017) rewards users with Littercoin for doing the work of collecting, mapping, processing and producing open geospatial data on an increasing variety of pre-defined types of litter including corporate brands anywhere. This process is currently accomplished through a web-app, which is built mobile first and available on all devices at openlittermap.com. To ensure data quality, all data goes through a manual verification process, which is being done by a small team of trained volunteers. This verified data is being used to develop machine-learning algorithms that will make manual processing and verification easier. However, without an immediate and continued source of funding the future of OpenLitterMap is uncertain.
Backend - PHP
Laravel 5.4 (https://laravel.com) is used as a backend framework as it provides a robust and flexible foundation for developing a geospatially-enabled API.
To render dynamic components reactively in the browser, such as Pie charts and Time-series, Vue.js (https://vuejs.org) is used in combination with ChartJs (https://chartjs.org). For maps, Leaflet (https://leafletjs.com/) is used to display OpenLitterMap categorized point data, which is layered over OpenStreetMap (openstreetmap.org) tiles. An auto-clustering plugin for Leaflet is employed for the global map, and Turf (htttps://turfjs.org) is layered between points and tiles to achieve a dynamic weighted hexagonal spatial grid at each City layer.
The creators of open data at OpenLitterMap are rewarded with Littercoin, a token on the Ethereum blockchain as a reward for proof of their work. This is analogous to the proof of work mining protocol on blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. However, because the production of Littercoin is not as financially or technically restrictive as producing Bitcoin or Ether, Littercoin (although facilitated by Ethereum) makes the “mining” (i.e. reward) of a token even more accessible. Although a monetary value or general utility has yet to be defined, users may begin collecting and trading these tokens with others who value their creation. As cryptocurrencies are typically permissionless, the possibilities for Littercoin are endless. For example, a business that appreciates the work being done by data producers could offer a reward (eg. a coffee or a discount or a sample) in exchange for some Littercoin. Such businesses could then use an accumulation of Littercoin as a cost-effective marketing strategy to attract more customers and showcase their appreciation of the work being done by the OpenLitterMap community. As Littercoin has the potential to incentivize the production of data that can increase the cost-effectiveness of existing public services, local governments could use it as a tax incentive, or to offer proactive healthy initiatives to citizens such as access to off-peak swimming pool hours, or for giving members of disadvanteged communites increased access to other goods and services, such as discounted fresh fruit and vegetables. Currently, 1 Littercoin is rewarded for every 100 images sent for successful verification in a row. This is intended to incentivize people to submit data correctly. To incentivize early adoption, OpenLitterMap will reward users for being the first to upload from a new location. Simply by uploading to OpenLitterMap, users dynamically populate the list of available locations in the database. Users receive 100 Littercoin for the being the first to upload from a Country, 50 Littercoin for the creation of a State, and 25 Littercoin for each City (Note, that these terms are used as a generalization for each of the 3 layers which are based on unrecogized OpenStreetMap values during the upload process). Although there are no restrictions as to how many locations a user can create, there are only 10 million Littercoin in the current v1.0 model, a number which was chosen arbitrarily. Due to technical smart contract limitations, Littercoin rewards are currently being distributed manually. While it doesn’t cost anything to receive tokens, it costs a fraction of eth to send tokens (~ €0.10-20c). To claim allowances, the authenticated user must visit openlittermap.com/settings/littercoin and enter an Ethereum public wallet ID or follow the instructions to create one. A more detailed whitepaper on Littercoin will follow this article about the future vision for this “GeoBlockchain” ecosystem and outline the business details about how we might be able to create a monetary incentive to reward people for producing open data on plastic pollution. Such a reward may have the potential to incentivize the rapid crowdsourcing of geospatial information at a global scale never seen before.
The OpenLitterMap Foundation
OpenLitterMap is currently entirely dependent on (and lacking in) crowdfunding contributions. Although open data has considerable socio-economic, environmental and governance benefits, it is does not provide an immediate or reliable source of revenue. Without an immediate and continued source of funding, the future of OpenLitterMap is not only uncertain, but bleak. Finances to map and produce open data on the pollution being caused largely by the products of a small number of global corporations have not been identified. To accept donations and give members a voice in the future of the OpenLitterMap ecosystem, a non-profit, the OpenLitterMap Foundation is being established. Several Ambassadors have joined the pre-liminary team from Ireland, Australia, the U.K., and the U.S.A. who are interested in promoting OpenLitterMap locally and we hope to have our first online AGM and elect the first committee in 2018. Following the development of more advanced and potentially commercial features we aim to transfer the cost away from data producers to sources of pollution (eg. corporations) who need to improve their image and social responsibility. Similarly, data consumers (eg. Local Authorities) need advanced analytics and near-real time insights. However, because litter mapping is a relatively new field of Geographical Information Science, neither of these institutions have the structures in place to enable the development of OpenLitterMap. In lieu of a grant or philanthropy, micro-financial monthly crowdfunding contributions averaging €5 from just ~ 1000 individuals worldwide who believe in and would like to see OpenLitterMap survive and be developed further offer a means of achieving growth and sustainability. To facilitate monthly crowdfunding donations, stripe.com provides a secure and established way of processing euros, pounds and dollars over an encrypted network. Subscriptions can be created on registration or cancelled and reactivated via openlittermap.com/settings/payments in a few simple clicks. Donations can also be made via Stripe, or by using trustless decentralized stateless payment infrastructures such as Bitcoin and Ethereum at openittermap.com/donate. By crowdfunding the development of OpenLitterMap, users can enjoy the updates and will be able to participate in guiding future developments. This could also be conducted using blockchain technology through a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organisation), which would allow members to vote on proposals with Littercoin or some other token. Interested parties should contact the author.
Data for OpenLitterMap is stored and made available through the integration of MySQL and NoSQL (Redis).
Hosting and SSL
OpenLitterMap is hosted by AWS (Amazon Web Services) who generously awarded OpenLitterMap with $1000 start-up credits as part of their Activate program. Post mid-January 2018 images are hosted on an Amazon S3 bucket. During the switch to S3, images uploaded prior to this were accidentally deleted which is why some images have been replaced with a green checkmark. An nginx server was provisioned with Laravel Forge (https://forge.laravel.com), which also provides free SSL certificates via Let’s Encrypt.
CSS and animation
OpenLitterMap is styled with the CSS Framework Bulma (https://bulma.io) and uses WOW.js for animation (https://mynameismatthieu.com/WOW/).
Dropzone (dropzonejs.com) is used to enable users to share geotagged images. Only geotagged images can be submitted and the user is restricted from uploading the same image more than once. During the upload process, GPS tags are reversed geocoded with OSM to get the address at each location. Unrecognized address values are used to dynamically populate the list of available locations, which is redeemable in Littercoin. All OSM address data is included in the downloads.
Native mobile apps for iOS and Android are being developed with the new NativeScript-Vue (CLI v0.2) framework,Footnote 12 which OpenLitterMap is proudly supporting the development of.Footnote 13 However if necessary libraries are not available we may temporarily switch to React-Native until NativeScript-Vue is more developed.
OpenLitterMap provides a global auto-clustering spider map at openlittermap.com/global. Furthermore, a 100m2 weighted hexagonal spatial grid is applied at each of the City layers where more than 1 photo exists. The user may visit different locations by navigating through the list of available locations or by directly manipulating the URL (e.g. openlittermap.com/maps/UK/England/London/map). Each cell is weighted spatially by the number of items of litter in each space not the number of photos, as one photo can have many litter items associated with it. Using the options panel available at each City layer (replace “/map” with “/options”), data can be filtered by the day and the size of the hex can be changed from a range of 1-500 m2 simply by moving the sliders available on the options panel or by directly manipulating the updated URL.
An increasing 100+ types of litter have been pre-defined by OpenLitterMap, which are mapped by several behavioral categories of related-waste, coastal litter, litter art and global corporations. These were selected based on independent research and continue to improve with feedback and the submission of previously unidentified items.
Cigarette/Butts, Lighters, Cigarette Box, Tobacco Pouch, Rolling Papers, Plastic Packaging, Filters, Filter box, Smoking-Other; (9);
Glass Bottles (beer), Glass Bottles (Spirits), Glass Bottles (Wine), Beer Cans, Broken Glass, Beer Bottle Tops, Paper Packaging, Plastic Packaging, Alcohol-Other; (10);
Coffee Cups, Coffee Lids, Coffee-Other; (3);
Sweet Wrappers, Paper/Card Packaging, Plastic Packaging, Plastic Cutlery, Crisp/Chip Packet Small, Crisp/Chip Packet Large, Styrofoam Plate, Napkins, Sauce Packet, Glass Jar, Glass Jar Lid, Food-Other; (13);
Plastic Water Bottle, Plastic Fizzy Drink Bottle, Tin can, Bottle tops, Bottle label, Sports Drink Bottle, Straws, Plastic Cups, Plastic Cup Tops, Milk Bottle, Milk Carton, Paper Cups, Juice Cartons, Juice Bottles, Juice Packet, Ice Tea Bottles, Ice Tea Can, Energy Can, Soft Drink (other); (19);
Needles; Citric Acid Packets; Alcohol Wipes; Needle Tops; Needle Packaging; Sterile Water Bottles; Spoons; Needle Bins; Tinfoil; Syringe Barrels; Unopened “Full Package”; Baggie; Crack Pipes; Other; (13);Footnote 14
Condoms, Nappies, Menstrual, Deodorant, Ear Swabs, Tooth Pick, Tooth Brush, Sanitary (other); (8);
Dogshit, Unidentified Plastic, Large/Random Dump, Metal Object, Plastic Bags, Election Posters, For Sale Posters, Books, Magazines, Paper, Stationary, Washing-up Bottle, Hair tie, Ear Plugs, Other (other); (17);
Microplastics, Mediumplastics, Macroplastics, Rope small, Rope medium, Rope large, Fishing Gear/Nets, Buoys, Degraded Plastic Bottle, Degraded Plastic Bag, Degraded Drinking Straws, Degraded Lighters, Balloons, Lego, Shortgun Cartridges, Coastal (other); (15);
Gutter, Gutter (long), Kerb hole (small), Kerb hole (large), Pathway (other); (5);
Art (introduced 5th Oct 2017)
Brands (introduced 16th February 2018)
Adidas, Amazon, Apple, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Colgate, Corona, Frito-Lay, Gillette, Heineken, Kellogs, Lego, Loreal, Nescafe, Nestle, Marlboro, McDonalds, Nike, Pepsi, Rebull, Samsung, Subway, Starbucks, Tayto (24).Footnote 16
Producing open data for verification
On login, users are redirected to the submit page (openlittermap.com/submit). On this page, users can click on the large dropzone box to gain access to their photo gallery or simply drop geotagged photos on the box to upload them. To process data and tag litter to images, the user must visit openlittermap.com/profile. This is linked twice. Once towards the bottom of the submit page and again towards the bottom of the drop-down navigation menu which is available from the upper-right hand corner. On the profile page, the user must manually attribute how much litter appears in each photo. Anywhere from a single cigarette butt to the contents of an entire beach or street clean can be logged in a single photo. If too many items are present and the user is unable to process all of the items individually, OpenLitterMap gives the option for a “Large/Random Dump” in the “Other” category that can be used to rank an area from a simple index of 1–100. Once the litter in the image has been attributed, it must be submitted for verification.
All OpenLitterMap is being manually verified to achieve a trusted database. This is currently achieved through a custom admin interface that can achieve successful verification of correctly categorized images at a rate of about 1 per second. Falsely attributed images are either rejected and sent back to the user for re-classification or corrected and accepted. Recently, several Ambassadors have volunteered to help with the verification process. Each Ambassador selected for this process has been correctly submitting data diligently for some time, and was chosen carefully as they demonstrated integrity and received some training to ensure best practices. Upon verification, all verified data is dynamically analyzed by space, time, location, behaviour and corporation, and is made free and open by design. Plans are in place to manage an expected backlog of unverified photos, such as by releasing unverified or semi-verified data. Admin-approved verification is considered “Stage 2” level of verification. Users can also vote true or false on each other’s images to achieve Stage 1 level of verification. However at this time there is rarely a backlog of images that are available for Stage 1 level of verification. Upon either stage of verification, all maps, charts and downloads will automatically update. If an image receives a certain number of false verifications it will be flagged for admin inspection and will not be included in the available data. Currently, 100% of submitted images have been verified to Stage 2 level of verification and can be considered admin-approved manually verified free and open citizen science data.
Adding new locations
Users add new locations to OpenLitterMap simply by being the first to upload a geotagged photo of litter from that location. OpenLitterMap reverse geocodes each set of GPS coordinates to get the latest OpenStreetMap address at each location and uses this information to populate its list of locations dynamically. To incentivize early adoption, this process is redeemable in Littercoin. Each layer has a “Created By” stamp, which is used to display either an anonymous user (the default privacy setting of every user) or it will reveal a given name and/or username for history to remember.
Users can visit openlittermap.com/settings to update their supplied information (name, username, email, password); delete their account; change, cancel or reactivate their subscription options; toggle the anonymity of their name and username from the default of anonymous to public; submit a public Ethereum wallet to claim Littercoin; and toggle the default presence value of the litter they are mapping.
By default, OpenLitterMap assumes that litter is remaining when and where it was recorded. The default presence value can be toggled in settings or per image during processing.
Privacy and Gamification