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City Testing Smart Technology Against Rats

A rat-mitigation sign in a Chicago alley. (CBS)

A rat-mitigation sign in a Chicago alley. (CBS)

Pamela Jones Pamela Jones
Pamela Jones serves as a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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(CBS) – Mousetraps with cheese is so 20th century.

So, now the city of Chicago is using big bucks and computers to attack rats.

CBS 2’s Pamela Jones takes us dumpster-diving for a look at how it works.

A few of the unwanted alley critters were spotted in Lakeview Friday. But now the city is grasping a new way of handling the problem.

A new smart data system predicts where the critters could turn up before they actually appear.

The city’s Department of Information Technology gets the info from 3-1-1 calls.

“We looked at 31 different call types coming from our 3-1-1 system, and they ranged from vacant buildings to sick animal calls, and that helped us determine where we were likely to get a rodent call before we heard from a resident,” Chief Information Officer Brenna Berman says.

The techs do the math and come up with a list of areas rats are likely to run rampant. Then Streets and Sanitation sets out bait from that list.

“They do that actually not just for the location that the model indicates, but for a wider area up and down that alley,” Berman says. “And then they’ll also talk with a couple of residents about what they’ve seen and experienced in that area.”

The city hopes to spread the proactive approach to city services beyond rat baiting.

The city won a $1 million grant for the new smart data program.