Monday, December 29, 2008

Video: Mapping NYC's Rats

Back in November when I saw that New York City had turned to computerized mapping software in its renewed fight against rodents, I knew I wasn't going to be satisfied with just a quick blog post. I had to learn more.

After 19 hours of work, including a wonderful but very cold expedition to the Bronx to see Bobby Corrigan and Mike Mills at work, I produced a written piece on rat mapping for and did the voiceover for the video, which was shot and edited by Ed Robbins.

It's kind of fun to compare the two projects. Text is great for information--and there's plenty of it in my text piece. Audio is ideal for emotion and I recorded several versions of the voiceover--some that sounded a lot more menacing than the one the editors ultimately used. And the video did a much better job of giving you a sense of Bobby's and Mike's personalities than my written piece did.

The written piece was picked up by CNN earlier this month and was one of the most popular pieces on for a while.

But enough with the media commentary: more importantly, the rat map has helped drive the number of rat problems in the Bronx down 40% in the past year.

Below is a screengrab from NYC's rat map of the abandoned house (upper left corner) where Bobby and Mike introduced Ed and me to their work. (You may need to click on the photo to see the detail.) The official rat map interface is a bit clunky but it yields an utterly fascinating view of New York City.

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