Rodents Of NYC

August 28, 2017

On July 2017, NYC has announced a $32 million plan towards reducing rodent populations. The plan will fully take into affect at the end of 2017. We will analyze how NYC's current process to control rodent population is successful by using 311 complaint data and rodent inspection data.

Rodent Inspections/Baiting

All rodent inspection data are available at NYC Open Data. We will be working with data from Jan 2013 to July 2017:

929989INITIALPO100000011045740.850778-73.8872262015-07-03 01:18:47Passed Inspection
929990INITIALPO100000311141940.691459-73.8207062015-07-08 02:55:49Passed Inspection
929991INITIALPO100000411135440.764792-73.8289632015-07-10 04:15:13Active Rat Signs
288082COMPLIANCEPO100000421135440.764792-73.8289632015-10-01 11:00:36Passed Inspection
929992INITIALPO100001811136840.747279-73.8624602015-07-21 10:30:12Problem Conditions

Each site is given a JOB_ID, where JOB_PROGRESS increases with every revisit to the location. There are a total of four inspection types:

  • Initial Inspection (INITIAL) - Inspection responding to 311 call
  • Compliance Inspection (COMPLIANCE) - After failing initial inspection, a follow up will be conducted.
  • Baiting - Application of rodenticide or monitoring
  • Clean Up - Removal of garbage and clutter

Taking a look at the number of inspections done since 2015, there is a noticeable uptick in inspections during the first half of 2017:

As of this blog post, we only have data for the first 7 months in 2017, lets compare the change in inspection count for the first 7 months year over year:

In the first 7 months of 2017, there was 27,000 more more initial inspections compared to 2016. Over the same period, there has been 4,000 more compliance inspections. Similarly, there is a increase activity in baiting during 2017. With clean ups per week in the teens and baiting per week in the thousands, NYC overwhelming prefers baiting than physical clean ups:

In the past two years, there has been an increase in 7,000 baiting events relative to the previous year:

Is it working?

From the rodent inspection data, we can see that there is increase activity in trying to get rid of rodents. But how can we tell if it is working? The inspectors do return to a baited location to see if the location is cleared of rats, but that could just mean the rats just moved to another location. One solution is to observe how many rodent related 311 calls are coming in since January 2013. 311 data can be downloaded from NYC Open Data. Here is a sample of the data we will be working with:

WARNING:root:Requests made without an app_token will be subject to strict throttling limits.
0104622016-05-16 12:00:0033371211BRONX
1103062016-05-17 12:00:0033375487STATEN ISLAND
2104632016-05-17 12:00:0033379343BRONX
3104622016-05-17 12:00:0033379676BRONX
4104632016-05-18 12:00:0033384535BRONX

Most of the columns were filtered since we are focusing on how the count changes through time. The number of rodent related calls is periodic and is slowly increasing since 2011. Unsurprisingly, there are less rodent complaints during the winter months:

The number of rodent calls have been increasing about 2,300 year over year for the past three years:


Although there is an increase in baiting and inspection activity, there is still an increase of rodent related 311 calls in the same time period. We did manage to decreases the change in rodent calls for 2016, but it came back up to 2,600 in 2017. Mayor Blasio's $34 million plan will fully go into affect at the end of 2017. After the plan comes into affect, we will come back to see if it was able to control the rodent infestation.

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