10 ideas for thinking smart about pets in your city

1. While planning more parks and cycle routes, city planners can include infrastructure and spaces. For example, new dog parks (with off-leash areas) and posted dog-walking routes.

2. Take advantage of innovations and networks developed by the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data sharing tools. Gathering information about pet population, consumption, behaviour patterns and resources available could help to plan better and safer dog-friendly smart cities.

Photo by KatrinKerou via Pixabay

3. Consider encouraging or demand the use of devices such as chips with RFID or GPS or pet’s wearable tech (to find missing or stolen dogs, validate animal licensing, track your pet’s fitness goals or to identify owners of dogs involved in incidents with people or who end up as strays.)

4. Design and share newsletters or apps with listed pet-friendly attractions, services and city-guidelines (containing emergency numbers, prices, pet licensing requirements and community meet-ups).

5. Social networks are already being used to unite pets with their owners, for adoption processes, campaigns for animal rights activists and advise business and pet owners. But their possibilities to share useful information in this matter are endless.

6. Work together with regulatory authorities, non-profits and experts in clarifying and spreading the definition of a service dog. Businesses and owners are not always aware of the certifications and specific trainings required for guide dogs, therapy dogs, assistance dogs, hearing dogs, seizure alert dogs, among others.

7. Assist tourists traveling with pets and the vacation industry to manage quality and safe pet’s tourism services.

8. Examine the ability of computation, communication, and control technologies to improve human interaction with pets. For example, integrate pets with social services such as therapy for patients with autism or Alzheimer or pet robots to assist elderly people.

9. Research best practices and creative ways to generate awareness for helping and/or adopting stray dogs and cats in their communities. The recycling ‘vending machine’ for stray dogs in Turkey has gone viral as an interesting idea to follow in some smart cities.

10. Monitor, control and develop solutions for dog/cat waste and their carbon ‘pow print’, as they have increasingly become an environmental issue (see Larry Schwartz’ article in AlterNet.) Spread eco-tips for pet owners such as: don’t flush the cat litter; switch from clay litter to a more sustainable one that is biodegradable; prevent your outdoor cats from killing birds (for example by requiring them to wear CatBibs outside); don’t walk your dog near waterways (and wherever you do, pick up the waste); don’t overfeed your pet.

Sources: Seattle as an example and Seattle’s dog obsession; Paco Maroto’s blog; Slate article on dogs in smart cities; Dogs are part of the Internet of Things and The carbon_paw_print.

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