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Exeter City Futures is collaborating on a project with Exeter Mathematics School to analyse recycling data from Exeter City Council. The goals of the project are to help improve the efficiency of local recycling services, and to support young people in developing analytical skills and applying them to real-world problems – thereby helping to transform Exeter into an analytical city.

The recycling department currently has a large quantity of data about city-wide recycling volumes for different materials – and the money that is generated from each recycling process – but this data set has never undergone a detailed mathematical analysis. These circumstances provide an exciting opportunity for students to have a positive impact on the recycling service by offering valuable mathematical insights into the data.

Unlocking the data

By analysing the information captured by the recycling department, Exeter City Futures and Exeter Mathematics School will be able to identify ways in which the service can be improved, and explore how the increased income resulting from these improvements might be reinvested.

The project will also consider how the current data capture and storage processes may be enhanced and extended, including capturing new forms of data to dynamically monitor the success of campaigns.

Creating an analytical city

This project represents a valuable and rewarding learning opportunity for the students involved, through helping them to apply their mathematical studies to the world around them. The project will also build the capacity of students as analytical thinkers in the city, and help them to identify the environmental, social, and economic benefits of engaging with these difficult questions.

It is envisaged that the insights resulting from the project will be shared with school pupils to encourage the development of local campaigns to improve recycling rates in their communities. In this way, the whole city can be involved in its transformation into a more sustainable place to live.