Racial Tension

Sanitation workers feel that not all neighborhoods view the worker as a whole person, rather just as the function they perform. In these neighborhoods, it is hard for them to feel respected and valued. This feeling is exacerbated by the fact that the sanitation work force is predominantly black while the constituents they serve range from multiracial neighbourhoods to neighbourhoods that are majority white. While we don’t think we can solve racial tensions with autonomous trash trucks, we do see an opportunity to create small interventions, such as thoughtful messages on the trash trucks that might subvert some of the assumptions around sanitation workers. We hope to remind residents that the people working the streets are part of the community as well.

Dealer Conflict

In certain neighborhoods, drug dealers use trash cans to store drugs and avoid police detection. In these neighborhoods, sanitation workers are harassed by these dealers when they come to empty trash cans used for this purpose.

Lack of Trust in Gov’t

In many communities, sanitation workers are viewed as an extension of a Government that residents believe is not working on their behalf. This mistrust of government leads residents in these communities  to treat sanitation workers poorly, when these workers are just trying to protect public health.