Dr. Fredericks’ Predictions for the Future of Pest Management

|  September 10, 2013

Twenty-five years ago, who would’ve imagined the high-tech, borderline science-fiction world we live in today? Who would’ve predicted global positioning system (GPS) satellite-based technology would render street maps obsolete? Who would’ve guessed music delivered on shiny, compact discs would go the way of the eight-track tape? Or that information would be delivered to the palms of our hands, on demand, in the blink of an eye? Twenty-five years ago, even termite bait seemed futuristic.

It’s difficult to imagine 25 years from now, the innovations we marvel at today will seem quaint and antiquated. It’s impossible to know for sure, but there are two safe bets about what the future holds for the pest management industry:

A driverless fleet
States such as California, Florida, Nevada and Texas already have legally recognized driverless cars to encourage testing and innovation. In fact, Sergey Brin, one of the co-founders of Google and the head of the secretive Google X division researching driverless cars, predicts the vehicles will be in widespread use as early as 2018. Some high-end cars already feature automation such as parking assist, adaptive cruise control and lane assist technology, making roads safer than ever before.

Not only will autonomous cars make the roads safer for pest management professionals (PMPs), they’ll make travel much more efficient. When fully implemented, drivers will be able to select their destinations and be whisked off, traveling the most efficient routes. Driverless cars also will revolutionize the way goods and services are delivered. On-call service professionals might be summoned to clients’ locations based on need, and services could be delivered on demand. Today’s two-hour service windows could be replaced by more-accurate appointment time estimates.

Time currently spent inside service vehicles could become more productive — shifting to time spent following up with clients, remotely checking monitoring devices or learning about pests. Delivering training materials might happen in real time, directly to each technician based on his/her needs. Technicians could access reference materials, consult with supervisors and participate in interactive learning experiences while traveling from one client to the next, converting wasted drive time to valuable learning experiences.

Smart(er) buildings
Today’s “smart buildings” already integrate: appliances; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC); and electrical and security systems to increase efficiency and convenience. Buildings might be outfitted with air-current sensors to detect pest entry points and monitor movement inside walls, as well as identify conducive conditions such as moisture levels. This smart building technology could:

  • alert technicians when pests are detected inside a structure;
  • determine a pest’s identity;
  • deliver a comprehensive treatment strategy tailored for the situation;
  • unlock the building when the service professional arrives; and
  • deliver payment when the visit is complete.

Technicians will have access to new, highly selective and ultra-effective products that will use new technologies such as ribonucleic acid interference (RNAi), which targets specific parts of a target pest’s genetic code while remaining harmless to other species.

With innovations such as automated vehicles, mobile training technology, smart buildings and RNAi technology on the horizon, it’s a safe bet these innovations will be part of the picture. It’s going to be a wild ride; but don’t worry, you probably won’t be driving. pmp

You can reach Dr. Fredericks, NPMA technical director, at jfredericks@pestworld.org

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