Geomapping the Rats of New York

By mapping rat infestations, New York City's health inspectors have found a whole new way to beat back the rodents.

1 minute read

December 16, 2008, 12:00 PM PST

By Michael Dudley


"Michael Mills, a veteran health inspector in New York City, helps create a map of the city you won't find in any guidebook: a rat map.

The city's rat map was first introduced a year ago, with an intensive pilot program in the Bronx. Mills and other inspectors scoured the streets, building by building, cataloging rat hotspots - places that show so-called active rat signs, such as lived-in burrows, fresh droppings, tell-tale gnaw marks on plastic garbage bags - in an effort to target rodent-control measures more effectively. That geocoding information was entered into each inspector's hand-held indexing computer and aggregated with similar data from all across the borough.

Today, rodent complaints by residents from all over New York are electronically pinpointed on the city's computerized rat map, which allows inspectors to track complaints and hotspots over time and determine how well rat-control efforts are working. The results, after just one year, should be music to the ears of most New Yorkers: When the pilot study began in the Bronx, inspectors found active rat signs on 3,100 of the borough's 39,000 properties. Preliminary results now show that 1,250 of those properties are rat-free. That's a 40% dropoff in infestations."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 in Time

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

Digital drawing of person holding city skyline with wifi symbols and lines indicating smart cities or data.

Cities Awarded for Data-Driven Projects

The What Cities Works Certification recognizes cities for using data to solve real problems.

June 21 - Smart Cities Dive

The Basilica of St. Joseph in San Jose, California.

Faith-Based Housing Movement Grows

More churches and municipalities are saying ‘Yes in God’s Backyard.’

June 21 - Vox

Close-up of red and white BUS LANE sign painted in street lane.

Why BRT Can Benefit Cities More Than Rail

Bus rapid transit lines offer a less expensive, quicker-build alternative to rail that can bring other infrastructure improvements with it.

June 21 - Governing

City Planner I

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner II

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner Supervisor

Department of Housing and Community Development

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.