Researchers Are Chipping and Surveilling NYC’s Rats

Researchers Are Chipping and Surveilling NYC’s Rats:

Parson’s and his team use traps baited with pheromones—not food—to capture the rats. They know where to place the traps because rats frequently navigate the dark tunnels where they live not with their eyes, but with their fur. Rubbing themselves against walls creates a trail that’s visible with an ultraviolet dark light. According to the study the trail glows blue–white if it’s fresh, yellow–white if old. The trap has a sensor attached to it that alerts the researcher by cell phone when a rat has been caught.

Once a rat has been caught, a mobile lab is deployed. Inside researchers wearing thick gloves render the rat unconscious by dipping the rat trap in a plastic induction container filled with isoflurane, a kind of ether. An unconscious rat is an easy rat to draw specimens from. Before it wakes up, the rat blood is drawn and an RFID chip is implanted.

An interesting bit of news in addition to previous writing on rats.


While admitting that increased surveillance was “scary” and that governments will have to be thoughtful with their laws, [Bloomberg] seemed to side with prioritizing radical transparency, especially through the use of automated drones, “but what’s the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building? I mean intellectually I have trouble making a distinction.”

Lest Bloomberg be labeled as a surveillience hawk, the interview took on a tone of inevitability, rather than advocacy: “Everybody wants their privacy, but I don’t know how you’re going to maintain it.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but his sentence “Everybody wants their privacy, but I don’t know how you’re going to maintain it” indicates a failure to understand his role as a politician. If everybody – including, one presumes, residents of New York city – “wants their privacy” then it is his job, and that of council, to protect and preserve those constituents’ privacy.

To be clear: it is not his job to authorize enhanced surveillance, and then throw his hands up and say that he doesn’t get how his constituents are going to realize their wishes as he and council march against those interests.