We’ve all been there. It’s a Saturday night, and you’re sitting around a backyard fire pit with friends and family when you feel a tickle on your ankle. You mindlessly start scratching at the sensation, but that only makes the irritation flare into something you can’t ignore. The top of your left foot feels itchy, too, and suddenly it hits you. Mosquitos. Not only do you have bites on your ankle and foot, but on your wrist and arm. Your relaxing Saturday evening is ruined, and you know you’re in for several days of discomfort as you start searching for hydrocortisone cream.
If untreated at the community level, seasonal outdoor pests like mosquitos, fire ants, horseflies, and more can be nuisances at best or dangers at worst, especially for those insects that can transmit dangerous diseases like West Nile. Municipalities are responsible for identifying at-risk areas, like free-standing water basins, that could become hotbeds for pest breeding and for treating such areas proactively to minimize community impact. Even the most well-organized departments can struggle to control pests across the community, especially as migration patterns and breeding areas change and adapt.
Controlling mosquitos and other pests is a public health issue. By acting on it, you can combat the spread of disease, educate citizens on how they can become involved, and transparently share information and data for why the process is not only important but safe. Demonstrating your care and concern for your citizens’ wellbeing will have far-reaching positive effects on your citizens’ relationship with your administration and their overall quality of life.
Fortunately, the best resources to fortify your pest abatement efforts are right in front of you: your citizens. By collaborating with citizens to identify and report mosquito scourges and other developing pest issues using your 311 and citizen request management (CRM) system, together, you can ensure seasonal pests bug off and don’t become buzzkills.
What is Mosquito and Pest Abatement?
Mosquito abatement is the proactive process of controlling the spread of mosquitos in your community by taking steps to eradicate existing populations while also using treatment actions to curb further population development.
Here we’ll cover what you can do in your community to control pests successfully, how you can communicate your treatment and management processes to citizens, and how you can use your SeeClickFix 311 and CRM solution to enhance and streamline your collaborative and proactive approach.
Setting Up for Success
The first step is ensuring that your team, staff members, and citizens have everything they need to be successful. The following are some examples of how you might be able to achieve this:
- Ensure staff is well-trained, following safety procedures, and that work is completed in a timely and effective manner
- Ensure the necessary equipment is in good working condition and that resources have been properly budgeted and allocated
- Become experts on your geographic location—topography of parks, cityscape, water features, population densities, and more are important data points to help understand where pests could breed and swarm
- Educate the public on how to identify and report pest species. If citizens know how to identify different species, they can submit more accurate details, which helps staff address the problem. Staff can interact digitally with the requestor to get further details or help visually identify the species.
- Educate the public on how to identify and report at-risk conditions. If citizens know that pooling water in tires, buckets, plants, and other similar places can be breeding grounds for pests potentially carrying disease, they can then do something about it. The solution will not always be insecticides; in some cases, it may be a matter of sanitation. Educate residents on the why and also on the how to help them act for a safer, healthier community
- Plan and prepare citizen communications such as mass notifications about pesticide application plans so individuals know when and what areas will be off-limits and can plan accordingly
- Collect and analyze data obtained from your 311 and CRM software, mapping software, and other asset management tools so that you can make informed decisions about how resources are used, treatments are scheduled, raw materials are budgeted, and then adjust as you continue to collect information and learn more
Communication and Transparency
Gaining Buy-In, Fostering Involvement, and Dealing with Public Relations Challenges
Some citizens may have concerns about pesticide-based treatment approaches. Make it a priority to communicate that the number one concern throughout the entirety of the abatement process is your citizens’ health and wellbeing. Invite them into the process, emphasize that an all-hands-on-deck approach is not only encouraged but necessary.
Also, be aware of how you are presenting the concept of mosquito abatement—everything from the way announcements are presented, to the specific language used in communications, to the way staff presents themselves during the fieldwork, all contribute to the overall image the public will have of the process, and subsequently whether or not they will buy into it year-after-year. Knowing this may help you avoid roadblocks and will assist in identifying when citizens have valid concerns that you must consider and address.
Welcome the thoughts and opinions of those concerned individuals and groups. Organic farmers, beekeepers, public land managers, environmental organizations, aquaculturists, and people who may be chronically ill or sensitive to certain chemicals all may have legitimate reasons for concern that deserve your attention, care, and response. To avoid public relations challenges, develop trust by opening the lines of communication. Then be prepared to listen, and give transparent, data-driven responses to questions and concerns that arise.
Give your citizens a voice and show them their input has been heard by developing unique solutions such as creating a notification or alert category within your 311 CRM specifically for concerned citizens who want early notice of upcoming treatments. Always look for ways to achieve a compromise acceptable to your administration, residents, and local businesses.
Reporting Tools and Data Management
Utilize the tools you have at your disposal, such as your SeeClickFix 311 CRM, to drive the communication and data collection process for your mosquito and pest abatement implementation strategy. When you can connect real-time conditions, images, requests, location data, and other insights from the citizens who can serve as your eyes in the community, you increase your odds of successfully combatting mosquito outbreaks and spread.
What Issues Can Citizens Report Using SeeClickFix?
With custom categories configurations, you can leverage SeeClickFix to give citizens an anywhere, anytime channel to report conditions such as:
- Pest Species Type
- Broken traps
- Stagnant water collecting
- Mosquito traffic in or on fixtures, buildings, tires, trash, barrels, old equipment
- Overgrown shrubs or plants
- Large increases in mosquito activity in a particular location
- Water features or fountains that are broken
- Natural bodies of water that have grown or been rerouted
What Else Can You Provide Citizens to Collaborate on Community-Wide Pest Mitigation?
- Public education on what to watch out for as the mosquito season starts
- Public education on how to identify a breeding ground for mosquitos and other seasonal pests
- Notifications of all plans in terms of where and when pesticides will be used
- Reliable ways to make requests, report issues, and receive feedback on how issues are being handled, when solutions are expected, as well as progress updates
Above all, citizens want to know that their wellbeing is valued and of the utmost concern by their local decision-makers. When it comes to mosquito and similar pest abatement, make sure your public knows their safety and protection are your highest priority. Accomplish this by communicating effectively and being transparent throughout the process. Create a partnership with citizens through the invitation and encouragement of their involvement in the process. The data and statistics from specialized technology such as SeeClickFix can connect citizens and government leaders to improve your community’s safety strategy. Place a premium on education for staff and citizens so that everyone knows how to help.
For more information on pest abatement solutions from SeeClickFix, click here.