How data helps Keep Norfolk Beautiful 

Annual litter survey : a story

Each year, the Community Appearance Survey conducted by Keep Norfolk Beautiful and volunteers measures litter to target ways to keep our city clean.

Your Cast of Characters

Keep Norfolk Beautiful 
The name says it all: these folks work all day, every day, to find ways to keep our city gorgeous. From neighborhood clean-ups to efforts to collect litter from the entire Chesapeake Bay, KNB fights grime. 
Dedicated volunteers 
Unassuming city employees, working at jobs that keep the city running -- until they don KNB capes and do the hero's work of looking out for litter. 

We've been down this road before

Each year, a team of volunteers conducts a windshield tour of the city to assess the level of litter. It takes a day and a half to drive 12 routes in each of the city's five wards, for a total of 60. Each of the routes varies in length from half a mile to a mile.
Keep Norfolk Beautiful has used the same routes for the last eight years to create a baseline and standard for measuring litter in our city. Driving the same routes ensures consistency in measurements as well as coverage of a broad distribution of sites within the city.  

Volunteers receive training...

And rules for scoring...

And visuals of what each score looks like ... 

And a hat or a t-shirt! 

And then they ride in a van for 18 hours, assessing litter throughout the city.

The time, patience and commitment required for this work lead to a big payoff: a trove of data, posted here in the NorfolkOpenData portal. This data allows the staff of Keep Norfolk Beautiful to create targeted litter prevention and removal campaigns. 
For example, following the assessment one year, Director Fleta Jackson said KNB worked with residents to target a specific means of reducing litter: tying trash bags before placing them in outdoor collection bins. “We created a campaign specific to the neighborhood,” Jackson said.
Adding these data to the portal ensures that residents “have all the tools they need to make a difference in keeping communities clean,” Jackson said. 
Want to find out how your neighborhood scored to create your own litter reduction plan? Find the data here.