This post is part of our new Future of Smart Cities series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
The following is an interview we recently had with Fredrik Kekäläinen, CEO and Founder of Enevo.
1. What’s the history of Enevo? Where and how did you begin?
FK: Seven years ago, one of our co-founders was sitting by his window, waiting for a call. As he waited, he saw a truck pull up outside his apartment complex. A hauler had come to collect the building’s waste. He watched the hauler pick up the dumpster, even though it was mostly empty. And he realized there had to be a better, more efficient way to coordinate waste removal.
He called a friend to tell him what he’d seen. They talked about waste, about technology, smart sensors, efficiency, routing and even did some dumpster dives. After a lot of late nights in the basement and a few yards of solder, they’d built their first sensor, put it into a dumpster and Enevo was born.
Founded in 2010, Enevo began in Finland by providing waste data from dumpster sensors using its proprietary analytics software. Enevo now provides full management of waste and recycling services for restaurant, retail and commercial property customers throughout North America. Today, Enevo is based in Boston with R&D operations in Finland.
2. What specific problem does your company solve? How do you solve it?
FK: The waste industry today operates on making numerous assumptions about each site, whether it is a restaurant, multi-family or retail location. There are assumptions about how much a site will generate, how many dumpsters are needed and how often those dumpsters need to be collected. In the waste industry, 9 percent of collections are missed, which results in added costs and unnecessary time spent calling haulers to resolve issues. And, 21 percent of sites need some level of service adjustment to accommodate for their actual waste generation patterns.
Enevo is the first waste services company to provide complete waste management outsourcing based on actual data, not just assumptions. Waste haulers are doing the best job they can, but they don’t have the data and knowledge to manage their clients’ services at the level that Enevo is able to provide.
Enevo installs sensors in the waste and recycling dumpsters, and data from the sensor is sent to a proprietary analytics platform. From there, the Enevo customer service team, at any given moment, can see which dumpsters need urgent attention, what collections were missed and other valuable insights. If a dumpster is about to overflow, the Enevo team will be alerted and schedule a pickup immediately. Enevo is able to verify and quickly respond to what is going on at each site at any time of the day.
3. What’s the future of smart cities?
Prediction #1: Cities will continue to grow, forming their own small entities and becoming more and more independent from federal regulations and processes. Massive growth will mean that upkeeping infrastructure and basic services will become more challenging, and in order to be more efficient, neighboring cities and towns will have to start sharing resources. The merging of operations between cities will be done by openly sharing data and building automation for basic services like waste collection. Today, we can have two towns with borders on the same street, but with two different city trucks picking up waste or street sweeping only on their respective side of the street. I believe this type of scenario, where border cities can share resources based on true demand, will become the norm going forward. This is only possible if city data and information is shared openly between city organizations and across city borders. The shared data can then be utilized to automate previously inefficient and manual tasks.
Prediction #2: City transportation will become more and more autonomous. We will use fully autonomous vehicles that operate 24/7 for both people and material transport. More housing and green spaces can be built into cities instead of using valuable real estate as parking spaces for storing cars that people won’t use frequently.
Prediction #3: Cities will also become self-sufficient in terms of energy generation and consumption. This happens due to the development of new materials like more efficient solar panels, energy storage and building insulation, data sharing and process digitalization, smart sensing technology, automation, and micro-generation. These developments will allow cities to utilize close to 100 percent of their energy needs from renewable resources.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends shaping cities of the future?
FK: The top 3 technological trends shaping cities of the future are:
Trend #1: Autonomous transportation.
Trend #2: Smart sensing technologies.
Trend #3: New materials enabling more efficient solar panels and energy storage.
About Fredrik Kekäläinen
Fredrik Kekäläinen is a technologist, innovator, and entrepreneur who founded Enevo in 2010 to meet the challenges of efficient, proactive waste management and recycling in an increasingly urbanized world.
Fredrik started his first company in 1996 while still studying at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland. Eightball Ltd., a pioneering mobile software business was successfully sold in 1999. He continued his startup journey as co-founder of Fathammer Inc., a developer of 3D graphics software systems for embedded and mobile applications. Fathammer was acquired by Japan-based Acrodea Inc., shortly before it went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in October 2006.
In his spare time, Fredrik enjoys sailing and being outdoors with his family.