For more information,
please contact:
Press Materials
The material on this website can be used freely in any publication provided that:

It is duly credited as a project by the MIT Senseable City Lab. PDF copy of the publication is sent to

For more information,
  • team
  • Carlo Ratti Director
  • Assaf Biderman Assoc. Director
  • Dietmar Offenhuber Team Leader
  • Eugenio Morello Team Leader, Concept
  • Musstanser Tinauli Team Leader, First Phase
  • Kristian Kloeckl Team Leader, Second Phase
  • Lewis Girod Engineering
  • Jennifer Dunnam
  • E Roon Kang
  • Kevin Nattinger
  • Avid Boustani
  • David Lee Programming
  • Alan Anderson
  • Clio Andris
  • Carnaven Chiu
  • Chris Chung
  • Lorenzo Davolli
  • Kathryn Dineen
  • Natalia Duque Ciceri
  • Samantha Earl
  • Sarabjit Kaur
  • Sarah Neilson
  • Giovanni de Niederhausern
  • Jill Passano
  • Elizabeth Ramaccia
  • Renato Rinaldi
  • Francisca Rojas
  • Louis Sirota
  • Malima Wolf
  • Eugene Lee
  • Angela Wang
  • Armin Linke Video
  • Advisors
  • Rex Britter
  • Stephen Miles
  • Tim Gutowski
  • Lead Volunteers
  • Tim Pritchard
  • Jodee Fenton
  • Lance Albertson
  • Chad Johansen
  • Christie Rodgers
  • Shannon Cheng
  • Jon Dreher
  • Andy Smith
  • Richard Auger
  • Michael Cafferty
  • Shalini Ghandi
  • Special Thanks
  • Jodee Fenton
  • Tim Pritchard


“Nobody wonders where, each day, they carry their load of refuse. Outside the city, surely; but each year the city expands, and the street cleaners have to fall farther back. The bulk of the outflow increases and the piles rise higher, become stratified, extend over a wider perimeter”

– Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

download hi-res video

Video credits: E Roon Kang - video / motiongraphics; Carnaven Chiu - visualization; Dietmar Offenhuber - visualization / proj. lead; Armin Linke - videofootage; Assaf Biderman - storyboard; Carlo Ratti - storyboard / concept

Imagine a future where immense amounts of trash didn’t pile up on the peripheries of our cities: a future where we understand the ‘removal-chain’ as we do the ‘supply-chain’, and where we can use this knowledge to not only build more efficient and sustainable infrastructures but to promote behavioral change. In this future city, the invisible infrastructures of trash removal will become visible and the final journey of our trash will no longer be “out of sight, out of mind”.

Elaborated by the SENSEable City Lab and inspired by the NYC Green Initiative, TrashTrack focuses on how pervasive technologies can expose the challenges of waste management and sustainability. Can these same pervasive technologies make 100% recycling a reality?

TrashTrack uses hundreds of small, smart, location aware tags: a first step towards the deployment of smart-dust - networks of tiny locatable and addressable microeletromechanical systems.These tags are attached to different types of trash so that these items can be followed through the city’s waste management system, revealing the final journey of our everyday objects in a series of real time visualizations.

The project is an initial investigation into understanding the 'removal-chain' in urban areas and it represents a type of change that is taking place in cities: a bottom-up approach to managing resources and promoting behavioral change through pervasive technologies. TrashTrack builds on previous work of the SENSEable City Lab in its exploration of how the increasing deployment of sensors and mobile technologies radically transforms how we understand and describe cities.

This project was made possible with support of The Architectural League of New York as part of the Exhibition, Toward the Sentient City.