Washington D.C. Is Solving It's Rat Problem With 311 Data

Washington, D.C. has a real problem with rats. (We mean actual, literal rats). In 2017, the city received approximately 500 rat-related service requests a month. But if rodents are ruining resident’s routines, the city’s responsiveness has revealed a real bright spot. D.C. is getting ahead of this rat problem by using 311 statistics to locate concentrated rat populations and deploying methods like traps, poison and dry ice to eliminate them.

The Washington D.C. Department of Health, with help from the Office of the Chief Technology Officer and The Lab from the Office of the Mayor is testing a new model using 311 data that targets locations in the city for proactive inspection of rat burrows. According to The Lab, top predictors for rat burrows include, population density of humans in the area, the average age of surrounding buildings and the zoning of buildings in the area. The Lab found that rat populations tend to congregate around the District’s business corridors that are have zoning for commercial and restaurant uses. The results from this model and its ability to predict where rat burrows will reappear will be available to the public in late 2018. Cities are working hard to deliver well, and with the right tools and guidance like the data collected from 311, they can do just that.

An important step to reducing D.C.’s pest problem is to accurately report rat sightings to 311, which will then dispatch the city’s team to trap and kill the rats in both public areas and private residences. Containing the rat population starts with individual citizens activating their community towards better practices. Citizens can contact 311 through a phone call, SMS message, tweet or by using your city’s 311 mobile app.

Data courtesy of the Washington D.C. RatSTAT Study commissioned by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the Department of Energy and the Environment, the Department of Health, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Small and Local Business Development, the Mayor’s Office of the Clean City, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer and the Office of Unified Communications.

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