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The City of Tempe, Arizona is renowned for its use of performance management metrics to guide city management and service delivery. One of the programs the City has effectively used performance metrics to dramatically improve is the graffiti abatement program. Tempe has traditionally had success with proactively abating a majority of graffiti without residents reporting it, but they want to increase their ability to proactively remove graffiti even more quickly, especially in areas frequently targeted by taggers. Incidents of graffiti are especially frequent in city parks.
In seeking to ensure graffiti is removed before anyone sees it and effectively make the City graffiti free – the City approached the ASU CIC with a Challenge submission.
Today, the City of Tempe Graffiti team drives the city’s roadways daily looking for graffiti. Experience has trained the team to understand where the graffiti hotspots are and where and when they are most likely to find incidents.
If the Abatement Team had a sensor that alerted them to new incidents it would save time driving routes and allow them to respond to new graffiti quickly and effectively and help meet the goal of zero graffiti.
The City assembled the Abatement, Waste Management, GIS, IT, and Code Compliance teams for an ASU CIC Innovation Workshop to explore technology solutions to improve graffiti abatement performance.
During the workshop, the City explored how the waste management vehicles are currently equiped with high definition cameras. The waste vehicles drive all city roads daily - making them a potential useful resource in monitoring graffiti. Based on these workshops, and in order to identify the best options, the City is first moving forward with a pilot that focuses on technology that could work for a majority of city vehicles.
The City wondered if it was possible to use the vehicle cameras to identify the presence of graffiti. The group asked if it was possible to use computer vision and machine learning to develop a system and train it to understand all of the locations in the City that are frequently vandalized with graffiti and alert the Abatement Team when a new incident occurs.
The ASU Cloud Innovation Center completed the prototype development in 2020 working with ASU Interns, AWS Solution Architects and City of Tempe Graffiti Abatement program staff. The solution was published on https://github.com/ASUCICREPO/tempe-graffiti and was made available for other communities to use as open source information.
The ASU Smart Cities Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) is a strategic relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is supported by AWS on ASU’s Innovation campus - SkySong. The mission of the CIC is to drive Innovation Challenges that materially benefit the greater Phoenix metro area and beyond. The CIC will do this by solving pressing community and regional challenges, using shareable and repeatable technology solutions from ideation through prototype, as a service for the greater human good.
The CIC also provides real-world problem-solving experiences to students by immersing them in the application of proven innovation methods in combination with the latest technologies to solve important challenges in the public sector.
The challenges being addressed cover a wide variety of topics including homelessness, water conservation, vandalism, pedestrian safety, digital service delivery and many others. The CIC leverages the deep subject matter expertise of government, education and non-profit organizations to clearly understand the customers affected by public sector challenges and develops solutions that meet the customer needs.
For more information on the ASU CIC, to read about projects or to submit a challenge, please visit https://smartchallenges.asu.edu.