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$30,000 SOS to tech heads to fix barking dogs problem

SOLUTION: Woodend resident Kate Perry with her dog, Bruce.
SOLUTION: Woodend resident Kate Perry with her dog, Bruce. Rob Williams

WITH $30,000 up for grabs, entrepreneurs have been recruited to investigate and develop a solution to one of the community's oldest problems - barking dogs.

From Friday to Sunday the Ipswich City Council will provide technology entrepreneurs, developers and environmentalists access to the region's animal management data for its inaugural Barkathon.

Held at innovation hub, Fire Station 101, participants are tasked with finding solutions to how complaints about barking dogs are registered, as well as developing new tools for residents.

It is hoped the mix of data and new technology will ease the labour-intensive process council officers undertake to investigate noise complaints.

At the end of the weekend, teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of guest judges which will decide what product the Ipswich City Council will sign up to.

Woodend resident Kate Perry acknowledged the level of noise emitting from front yards as she walked her dog, Bruce, through the neighbourhood.

"Living in Ipswich I think every house in the street has a dog, or three," she said.

"If I walk Bruce down the street it will be just non-stop barking the whole way."

The Fire Station 101 graphic designer said the weekend's event would bring clever people together to think of a creative solution.

"I'm not sure what will happen and whether we'll reduce the barking or if there's a solution that we could come to that would help neighbours," she said.

"I'm excited to see what hasn't been thought of yet, is there a crazier solution that could be implemented?"

Health, Security and Community Safety Committee chair and division nine councillor Sheila Ireland said barking dog complaints represented "one of the largest service request types" for the council.

Cr Ireland said the Barkathon winners' product would help the community and form the foundation of a globally scalable business.

"We're inviting people to help us discover and develop solutions that will benefit dog owners, their neighbours and the wider community through technology and innovation," she said.

"Traditional ways of addressing complaints can be resource intensive as they are treated on a case-by-case basis, and intervention can often result in inconsistent or short-term fixes."

The council does not investigate all barking dogs complaints from the initial stages - instead, a fact sheet is sent to the owner with tips on changing behaviour.

If the dog continues barking two weeks after the fact sheet is sent, a council officer will further investigate through methods including doorknocking in the area and listening to the dogs barking.

Ms Perry was interested to see what ideas were born from the Barkathon event using new technology.

She hoped the event would provide a sense of community as well as finding a solution to the "serious cause".

"We all understand there's a problem here," she said of dog noise complaints.

"We all love our dogs and our pets but not so much our neighbours' incessant noise."

The winning team will retain intellectual property ownership of their product once it is developed and launched.

Barkathon will begin on Friday at 5pm and conclude on Sunday afternoon.

Topics:  animal management barkathon barking dogs dogs ipswich city council


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