ITP Spring Show 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2-6pm & Monday, May 11, 5-9 pm

Elie Zananiri

Rats ‘n’ Bedbugs

A visualization of the rat and bedbug populations in New York City.

Mainstreaming Information

Rats 'n' Bedbugs is an on-screen interactive visualization of the rat and bedbug populations in New York City.
The interface consists of a map showing the concentration of rats and bedbugs at different focus levels: the entire city, the five boroughs, and the community districts.The focus changes by zooming in and out of the map, through simple mouse clicks on or off the area of interest. This zoom is accompanied by scattering or flocking of pests as the numbers get adjusted, creating a smooth yet disturbing interaction.

There is plenty of data on this subject, most notably the NYC Health Rat Information Portal ( and the New York vs. Bed Bugs website (
Since the numbers are in the millions, the amount of pests shown will be scaled according to the number of people living in the area of focus. For example, if 1 000 000 people live in Manhattan and 5 000 000 rats live in Manhattan, this could be represented as 100 human sprites vs. 500 rat sprites.

Anyone living in New York.

User Scenario
You walk up to the screen and use the mouse to navigate through. You laugh and cringe as you see what's going on.

The application is written in Processing and Java. The map was drawn in Illustrator, then the points were imported into an XML document. All the data was scraped from the NYC government site and the Rats vs. Bedbugs site, then added into the same XML document. This document was then loaded in the application to drive all the data.

Processing is slow when handling lots of complex shapes. Bushwick sucks.