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Space Detective Agency Leads War On Waste Crime

Waste crime is a serious issue that affects thousands of people in the UK every year. These range from fly-tipping in rural areas, to illegal waste sites that total hundreds of tonnes of unlicensed household and trade waste.

But one company, Air & Space Evidence, from University College London (UCL) is offering a pioneering service that uses aerial and space photography to tackle waste crimes.

With an archive of current and historical photographs totaling millions of pictures covering the entire globe, Air & Space Evidence are able to investigate high priority illegal waste disposal.

How does it work?

Archived satellite data is accessed via multiple space agencies who supply photography using satellites such as the International Space Station, and much smaller, lesser known modules.

Using manual search techniques, sites can be identified, but with the help of a computer algorithm, vast areas can be searched and flagged up for a human operative to investigate.

The detection model can even risk profile the current site and determine whether it is still active. If so, this can give a high likelihood of waste criminals still working on the site or whether the site is likely to be dormant.

This increases the effectiveness of regulatory intervention and gives police the edge when targeting such petty, but highly organised crimes.

Though the methods can be used to help civil and criminal investigations, from homeowners’ disputes to murder trials, the space detective agency won’t solely rely on satellite data. In some cases aerial drone photography will have to be implemented where the highest resolution photographs are required.

Who are Air & Space’s clients?

Though private clients aren’t going to be disclosed for obvious reasons, Air & Space have given talks internationally for the following trade bodies, governments and international committees:

  • European Environment Commission
  • European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environment Law
  • EU Green Week
  • Environmental Affairs South Africa
  • EnviCrimeNet
  • DOTCOM Waste
  • Houses of Parliament: Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology
  • International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement

Future Developments

Air & Space clearly have an interest in environmental crimes as they are working on services to track physical waste. As they rightly point out, existing methods track vehicles and use paperwork as an assurance of legal operation.

However, as soon as waste leaves the vehicles or the paperwork is forged, the actual chain of assurance is broken. Using global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) Air & Space are planning to help regulatory bodies track physical waste itself, rather than the vehicles in which it is transported. This will minimise the chances of illegal operators dumping waste loads in illegal areas en route to a supposed legal disposal or recycling centre.

Here at CSH Environmental, we’re one of the leading waste management companies throughout Colchester and the surrounding areas. We may not use space-age technologies, but our state of the art recycling facility is capable of achieving our ‘zero to waste’ initiative. Our team have provided first-rate skip hire, trade waste and recycling solutions for over 40 years, and are happy to serve customers throughout Chelmsford, Ipswich, Felixstowe, Bishop’s Stortford and beyond. Contact us today to learn more.

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