For some people in the Halifax Regional Municipality who have trouble remembering whether it’s a garbage or green bin week — there’s now an app for that.
Steve Boutilier, a computer programmer in Lower Sackville, has done his bit to ease the confusion by creating the free Halifax Waste Collection smartphone application.
Boutilier said his pick-up day routine relied on his neighbour’s getting the day right.
"Head out the door, take a look at the neighbours and see what they placed out on the curb — and that's what I did. Luckily they were usually right," he said.
But Boutilier, who designs apps professionally, said the HRM's recently-launched Open Data Pilot Project was the driving force behind his app.
"One of the things they were releasing was waste collection information, and I thought, 'Okay, I could use this and I write apps.' So, that's how it started," he said.
Boutilier said there are other ways to remember, for instance posting the paper schedule on your fridge or checking online, but he prefers an app.
"I didn't want to log into a website. If I can glance at my phone, which I have with me at all times anyway, it makes it easy," he said.
The smartphone app works in conjunction with Global Positioning System satellites, so Boutilier said you don't even have to enter your address.
"When you start the application it will get a GPS location and figure out where you're at in HRM, and that's how it figures out what your collection day is," he said.
The app includes HRM's guidelines on sorting household waste, as well as a list of the closest Enviro-Depots. It even has an alarm setting to remind you the night before to take out the trash.
Tiffany Chase, HRM spokesperson, said municipal officials are thrilled to see the open data policy bearing fruit.
"We do hope that people will continue to use the data like this gentleman has, to develop an application out of it, that makes the data really useful to people," said Chase.
HRM is also launching a contest to find creative uses of municipal information released under the open data policy.
Chase said the contest will begin in July. She said Boutilier's app is eligible for entry.
Meanwhile, Boutilier hopes his fellow citizens give his free app a try. It's available for Android devices and newer Blackberry models.
"I mean, I honestly made it for myself, but whoever wants to use it, and finds it useful, it's great," he said.