Somerville Pilots New Rodent-Control Technology

City partners with Modern Pest Services to deploy 50 SMART Boxes in strategic locations

"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.” ―Mayor Katjana Ballantyne

As part of Mayor Katjana Ballantyne’s 100-Day Agenda and the City’s ongoing commitment to mitigating rodent activity, the City of Somerville is launching a five-month pilot program to bring the latest rodent-control technology to Somerville this week.

The City and its partner, Modern Pest Services, will install and maintain 50 SMART Boxes in four neighborhoods through at least July 2022. SMART Boxes are non-toxic, industrial-grade traps that catch rodents above ground and provide real-time data for proactive pest control. Somerville is the second municipality in the country to pilot this technology, after Portland, Maine. 

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 alert Modern Pest when activity is detected. SMART Boxes do not use poisons and are securely locked, so they don’t pose risks to people, other animals, or the environment.

The City is deploying SMART Boxes to four locations for the pilot program: Davis Square, the Gilman Street area, the Lexington Street area, and the Macarthur Street area. These locations were identified using 311 Constituent Services 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 – which will provide valuable insights to inform future mitigation. 

“Rodent activity is a critical quality-of-life issue here in Somerville, so I’m very pleased to bring this new technology to our neighborhoods 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.”

The SMART Box pilot is the latest strategy in the City’s Integrated Pest Management Plan. The new technology will complement other ongoing abatement efforts, including residential visits,  information distribution, and free baiting through the Residential Rodent Control Assistance Program. To learn more about rodent control in Somerville, go to somervillema.gov/rodentcontrol