City of West U Finds Fault with ‘Rattiest Neighborhood’ Survey

October 17, 2011

The City of West U has issued a response to a recent survey that named West U as the “rattiest neighborhood” in Houston, saying that the survey was not based on fact.

Rodent control company, d-CON, released the results of a nationwide survey on Oct. 13 that determined which neighborhoods in Houston, Detroit, Nashville, Baltimore and Charlotte were believed to be the “rattiest.”

About 1,000 residents were polled about the frequency of rodent sightings in their homes and neighborhoods and West U came out on top along with Uptown/Galleria and The Heights.

“The survey demonstrates which neighborhoods residents deemed the ‘rattiest’ and what they would do if they saw a rodent in their home,” d-CON Senior Brand Manager Christine van den Broeck said.

According to the survey, 50 percent of participants said they would deploy a mouse trap or bait if they saw a rodent in their home and 23 percent “would let out a good scream.”

Forty-six percent of Houston residents said they have encountered a mouse or rat in their home at least once.

“The d-CON survey polled only 200 Houston participants over some 13 listed neighborhoods. There are no numbers given for any of the specific neighborhoods surveyed, so it is impossible to tell how many West U residents were queried,” the city said in a statement. “Even if all 200 of the survey participants had been from West U, it would simply tell us that 120 people living in West U had reported having seen a rodent. With over 14,000 residents, that number represents less than 1 percent of West U residents —- not quite the story that the headlines tell!”

The five cities included in the survey were chosen based on results of the 2009 d-CON Rodent Risk Report.

The city’s full statement is as follows:

“Rats to poor reporting! Recent stories at Houston Press, Channel 11 and other media outlets named West U as the “rattiest neighborhood” in Houston. But were the stories actually based on fact? d-CON, the nation’s rat authority, released results on a nationwide survey to determine which Houston neighborhoods residents believe to be the rattiest. That is where fact begins to separate from the final survey “results.”

Conducting a survey is a scientific method by which information is determined through asking a set number of people the same question. There are standards used in surveying, beginning with the number of persons needed to reflect the target audience as closely as possible. To determine how many people must be surveyed you need several pieces of information: a confidence interval, a confidence level and a population. The confidence interval is commonly called the margin of error; the confidence level tells you how sure you can be of the results. Finally, the population refers to the specific group you are targeting.

A “good” survey for the Houston area should be built around a 4 percent confidence interval, at least a 95-99 percent confidence level and a population of at least 2 million as reported in the 2000 census. Using those numbers, the smallest pool to survey would be 600 (95 percent) or 1,040 (99 percent).* But the d-CON survey polled only 200 Houston participants over some 13 listed neighborhoods. There are no numbers given for any of the specific neighborhoods surveyed, so it is impossible to tell how many West U residents were queried. Even If all 200 of the survey participants had been from West U, it would simply tell us that 120 people living in West U had reported having seen a rodent. With over 14,000 residents,** that number represents less than 1 percent of West U residents —- not quite the story that the headlines tell!”

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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