Website solution for reporting barking dogs

Aaron Brand at FireStation 101

Local engineer Aaron Brand has developed a user-friendly website for neighbours to report troublesome dogs to Ipswich City Council.

Most people have known, or perhaps owned, a barking dog.It’s a contentious topic among homeowners, and is one of the leading cause of complaints made with Ipswich City Council.

However, help is at hand, now that local engineer Aaron Brand has developed an online solution that helps dog owners, disgruntled neighbours and the Council.

In winning December’s “Barkathon”, Mr Brand pitched ‘BarkUp’ – a website where residents can make complaints anonymously about troublesome dogs, while also providing tips on how to approach neighbours about the problem, without the inevitable confrontation.

Mr Brand said his market research found that people were too worried to complain to their neighbour directly – himself included.

“I know what its like to be the neighbour of a noisy dog; I’m the owner of a quiet dog,” he said.

“I’ve tolerated a nuisance dog for about ten months and I’ve said nothing to the owner.”

“Because of online community and social forums, people are used to a level of anonymity and people are more afraid to approach their neighbour than they ever have been – we live inside and online.”

Allowing complainants to fill out an online form also allows the Council to collect data easier than ever before. “It frees up a lot of resources and costs, to listen to people’s grievances online rather than through a phone call,” Mr Brand said.

Mr Brand has also recognised the need to introduce compulsory dog training to curb excessive fines for owners and to change behaviours of the nuisance dog.

“In it’s first phase, it will be a complaint mechanism that will generate a letter to the owner of the property inviting the owner onto the BarkUp! platform, to show them training options and introduce them to local dog trainers and dog events,” he said.

“Later on, the Council may enforce diversionary programs rather than giving the owner fine after fine. Right now, the system is punitive – your dog barks, you get in trouble and eventually get a fine; this system provides a better solution of having to undertake education for their dogs.”

Mr Brand was granted $30,000 from the Council as well as an Innovation Hub membership to Firehouse101 in order to develop the website.

The BarkUp! website is set to roll out in mid-2018 and may be pitched to other local councils after the website is live.