Charleston to start using GPS to track horse waste

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -The City of Charleston is revamping the system used for tracking and cleaning horse waste on streets downtown.

For years, carriage tour guides would use small flags attached to rubber as a way to mark where horses “relieved” themselves on streets.

The tour guide would then call in the accident to equine sanitation teams, which are contracted by the city, to clean up the mess.

But the City of Charleston is working with one carriage company to test new GPS technology that would allow carriage tour operators to mark the location of those spills digitally.

“Now we’re going to start GPSing where animals go to the bathroom on the streets or if the diaper misses along the way," Palmetto Carriange Works General Manager Tommy Doyle said.

The city has paid for 40 tracking devices, which would be used for all carriage tour companies in Charleston.

The devices, no larger than a domino with a lanyard attached, would be given to drivers by city employees as they begin their tour route.

“It’s lightweight, small and capable of accomplishing the mission we want to accomplish,” Riccio said.

The city paid $250 per GPS device, which is about $10,000.

In the future, carriage companies will be expected to pay for new devices through the waste management bill they are already required to pay to the city.

Only one carriage company is testing the devices for now.

“You know, our main purpose is to be able to call in these spills faster and respond to these spills much quicker," Riccio said.

Doyle said he is excited to start using the new devices because he thinks they will help clear up discrepancies on failures to clean up waste properly.

“There’s going to be the accountability that my drivers are calling in the spills or reporting the spills now," Doyle said. “And there will be accountability that the company that’s supposed to clean it up will actually go out and clean it up.”

Some critics said on Facebook that the new program is a way for the City to regulate and track carriage horses, but Riccio said that is not the intention.

Doyle also said he does not share that concern.

“The way I run my business, we run our business, is we follow the rules," Doyle said. "And if we don’t follow the rules, the fines that we get are up to $1,100. And to me, that’s enough of a deterrent to keep me doing what I’m supposed to do.”

The city aims to phase out the use of traditional flag markers, but it will continue using them until city officials and carriage companies are confident with the new devices.

City officials said they expect to have every carriage company using the GPS devices in about two weeks.

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