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Friday, June 9 • 11:15am - 11:35am
Litter Baskets and Structural Inequity in New York City

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In July 2020, New York City's Department Sanitation (DSNY) began to publicly release a dataset of litter basket locations throughout the five boroughs on New York City’s Open Data Portal. While this dataset includes an Open Data Portal map, no other prebuilt analysis of the data is provided. Researchers and citizens alike are then tasked with visualizing this city-wide data (often in combination with other datasets) in order to effectively examine DSNY Litter Basket distribution, densities, and relationship to other socioeconomic variables.
This proposal for HASTAC 2023 Critical Making and Social Justice is to present work that our block association - The Harlem Neighborhood Block Association (HNBA) - has done to visualize and expand upon this DSNY dataset. In particular, HNBA has been interested in examining whether or not a comparison between East Harlem (our Community District - CD11) and the Upper East Side (CD8) reveals disparities in resource allocation. Our interest in this dataset reflects an ongoing concern among our community members regarding resource equity and inquity in New York City, and with DSNY in particular.
The visualized results of our analysis reveals persistent evidence of overt and hidden structural inequality in DSNY’s resource allocations. The location of the quotidian trash basket - whether consciously or unconsciously determined - nevertheless has an important impact on everything from community health and well being, to rodent density and and tourism. Examination of this ubiquitous example of civic street-furniture reveals that the humble refuse bin - while serving as a classic example of a distributed civic asset - can also be investigated as a fascinating barometer of municipal equity in the urban space.

avatar for Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill

Fordham University
I am a Harlem community activist working towards equity for all New York neighborhoods.

Friday June 9, 2023 11:15am - 11:35am EDT