Baltimore now using 311 data to fight its rat problem - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Nov. 20, 2014 8:59 am

Baltimore now using 311 data to fight its rat problem

Using predictive modeling, the public works department aims to stay a step ahead of migrating rat populations.
Baltimore’s rat hotspots.

Baltimore's rat hotspots.

(Image courtesy of Baltimore city government)

Baltimore’s notorious rat problem has spawned bumper stickers and a new way to fish from the middle of the city. The infestation has also produced a lot of ideas about the best strategy to drive out the rodent hordes from their seemingly endless strongholds in alleyways, sewers and abandoned houses.

Baltimore city’s latest plan, announced at a City Hall press conference on Wednesday, involves traditional tools like more manpower and a campaign to encourage residents to cover their trash. But it also involves a data component that is designed to allow those new resources to scurry ahead of the vermin.

"We should be able to predict the migration of the rat populations, and try to stay ahead in terms of managing that population."
City Public Works Director Rudolph Chow

The new strategy, known as the “Rat Rubout,” will employ predictive modeling of rat redoubts using records of calls to the city’s 311 line.

By tracking where the most callers are reporting infestations, the city can shift resources to deal with the problem.

“We understand where these 311 calls are coming in from the past, so we should be able to predict the migration of the rat populations, and try to stay ahead in terms of managing that population,” said City Public Works Director Rudolph Chow.

Following the calls won’t limit the battle to one area, however. Data released by the city shows high concentrations of rodents in the Belair-Edison to the northeast, Morrell Park and Sandtown-Winchester to the west and Brooklyn to the south.

To wage battle on multiple fronts, the city is also nearly doubling the number of field employees who engage in rat eradication from 8 to 15. They intend to inspect and bait in all 12,250 alleyways in the city. The teams will work district-by-district in 20-day cycles to coincide with a rat’s typical breeding timeline.

As new data from 311 calls comes in, the teams will then adjust deployments to go where the rats are congregating.

”The mayor is going to be requiring us to have results,” Chow said.

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