The City of Somerville in Massachusetts is piloting sensor-equipped rat traps that provide real-time data to inform pest control.
Working with partner Modern Pest Services, the city will install 50 SMART Boxes in four neighbourhoods for the five-month pilot.
When a rodent enters a SMART Box, sensors detect movement and body heat and activate a ‘catch’ function, immediately killing the rodent with an electrical current. The rodent is deposited into a closed container, then the trap automatically resets. SMART Boxes monitor and record rodent activity 24/7 and send alerts when activity is detected.
The boxes don’t use poisons and are securely locked, so they don’t pose risks to people, other animals, or the environment, the city said.
The technology has also been piloted in Portland, Maine and is being considered by Cambridge, Massachusetts due to a growing rodent problem.
Somerville’s pilot locations were identified using 311 data on rodent reports and inspectional services ticketing information. They also represent different types of settings with variables that can affect rodent activity – including a business district, a residential district, open space, and proximity to construction and transit.
Quality of life issue
The pilot is the latest addition to Somerville’s broader pest management strategy and part of Mayor Katjana Ballantyne’s 100-day policy agenda which she launched when she took office in January to “take on the most pressing issues” facing the city.
“Rodent activity is a critical quality-of-life issue here in Somerville, so I’m very pleased to bring this new technology to our neighbourhoods and to get this pilot underway,” said Mayor Ballantyne. “We need to be committed and forward-thinking in our approach, which makes the SMART system so compelling. It will not only catch rodents – it will expand our ability to collect data, to quantify the issue, and to identify additional steps we can take to make the greatest impact citywide.”
For example, the data could show areas that need additional pest control treatment, the number of rats being killed, and clues as to whether the rodent population is reducing.
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