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Nothing to waste on data

Friday 6 September 2019

If local government needed any more reminders of the importance of basing decisions on strong, reliable data there were plenty of them at last week’s Waste Forum in Brisbane.

The upheaval in waste management over the past 12 months has been unprecedented. The Palaszczuk Government has introduced both a waste levy and a container refund scheme. Talk of waste playing a role in the push toward renewable energy has grown louder as technology improves. And, of course, there is the ongoing fallout from China’s National Sword policy of banning most imports of recyclable waste, a decision that turned the economics of recycling on its head.

For local councils to maintain their lead role in managing Australia’s waste, there needs to be a lot of commitment to a political solution and a lot of nimbleness guiding a business solution.


Thankfully, recent pronouncements by Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggest there does appear to be an appetite for national leadership on waste management and the creation of a circular economy. Big tick there.

But on the business side, there is potential for a lot of mistakes as councils sail into what are uncharted waters.

This is what is motivating the LGAQ’s LG Sherlock team to use its expertise in data analysis to change the game on waste.

The LGAQ developed Sherlock to help Queensland councils convert the huge amounts of data they collect into insights to improve the way they make decisions about their businesses, thereby reducing risk, enhancing the reputation of the sector and, perhaps most importantly, protect financial sustainability.

It has already developed tools like Fuel Detective and Energy Detective that unlocks the secrets contained in raw data.

As of today, 22 Queensland councils are using Sherlock’s Energy Detective tool, giving them rich information on such things as incorrect billings, inefficient assets and costly tariff codes. Some have found assets which don’t even belong to the council, while all have the ability to tag and track energy improvements over time.

Simon Kalinowski, of Mandalay Technologies, explained the importance of data to the future of waste management in this way:

“Without data, how do you know the generation of material, where it’s going, what’s happening with it, and more importantly, what waste are you going to have tomorrow, a year from now or a decade from now? And how does all that underpin investment decisions about the waste services local communities need?”

Traditionally with waste, the data that has driven decisions is sourced from State reports that essentially only give an insight into what was happening six or 12 months ago. The goal of LG Sherlock is to ensure councils have real time data, backed with analytics, that they are confident is accurate.

Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006


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