Is there room for pets in smart cities?


In one side, dangerous dogs, chained dogs, puppy mills, stray cats, feral rabbits… in the other side sweet pets. In any case a great opportunity for Internet of Things companies for improve livability in Smart Cities ?.

While the main initiatives in Smart Cities are related with areas like: Intelligent Transport and Smarter Parking, Efficient Resource Management (water, energy), Building Automation and Smart Buildings or Public Safety, I believe is important also to include other areas like Urban Agriculture or integrating Pets in the Smart City

If you remember in a previous post I mentioned that there are 3.3 billion people living in cities today—a number that will double by 2050 –.The average number of pets per household varies in different countries especially depending on the population. There is no documentation of the average number of pets per household in the world. However the UK has an average of 3.7 whereas the US has an average of 3.9. That means around 3 billion pets living with us. As urban populations swell, so will already increasing pet populations.

Smart Cities, Pets and Regulations

In India the stray dog problem has been described as “alarming” and a number of proposals have surfaced to address the problem, from exporting them to other countries to sterilizing them.

Kansas City’s municipal no-kill animal shelter has so many pets it’s had to convert bathrooms, closets, locker rooms, the basement and the employee break room to find space for them, according to an AP report.

In August 2013, as many as 50,000 starving stray dogs swarmed Detroit when people left the bankrupt city leaving their pets behind.

Not all dogs are man´s best friends and not all dog owners are responsible.

Whether you are a passionate activist fighting for animal rights or you are a person that don’t like dogs or hate cats, everyone has their own reasons for speaking/discuss for pets in favor or against day in and day out.

Smart Cities majors and municipal councils must recognize that the problem exist, collect information and develop infrastructure and tools to enact proactive bylaws that foster safe, humane and livable communities for people and animals alike.

Municipal councils has the power to anticipate and help solve these problems through their animal bylaws.

 Technologies to improve livability

Fortunately, technologies that are emerging can help smart cities, their shelters, pet owners and prospective pet owners to improve livability for two-legged and four-legged city residents. Let’s take a look at five of these technologies.

  • Social media: To attract people to the shelter and to find the animals great homes.
  • Facial recognition software: To unite pets with their owners.
  • Interactive website: To link pets to people looking to adopt one.
  • Licensing apps: To better connect licensed pets with their owners.
  • Internet of Things: To help owners easily track their pets or to identify or predict aggressive behavior and avoid being attacked.

Recruit Pets as additional sensors of a city

When I read  “Building smart cities from the bottom-up” post , the idea of not only recruit people but recruit pets as additional sensors of a city rather than relying only on formal systems embedded into infrastructure comes to my mind.

I can imagine how the many smart pet-devices (like Petnet or Tractive Motion) will accelerate creation of new apps, solutions and smart city services to make a difference how pets and people share a common environment.

Tourism with or without Pets in Smart Cities

Taking pets away when enjoying a break is an increasing trend. For instance, in UK, nearly two million dog owners and around one million cat owners take their pets away when enjoying a break away from home.

Many people who do not wish to be parted from their pets when visit a city for pleasure and sometimes for business need the confidence that the city and not only the hotels that they are booking quality accommodation offer services that meets their and their pet’s particular needs.

As an extension to what I said in this post, the Internet of Things can play a crucial role into assist tourists traveling with pets during their trip and allow city managers to coordinate pet’s tourism services and monitor the status of their use at all times to guarantee quality pet public services.

I want my dog not a robot !

I dare to predict the outcome between supporters and opponents of pet robots. I believe there’s room for both, and if it is true that I am of those who believe that no machine can replace the love of a dog, do not close my mind to the use of robots for specific purposes. As far as the need for pet companionship isn’t going anywhere, better we learn to be comforted with robotic pets.

For those who think that a robot will never replace our beloved pet, I discover this “ Could you ever love a robot pet the same way you love your dog? video that explores the advantages of robot pets and some exciting examples that are already available.

And if still you have a doubt about the benefit of Pet Robots, take a look at this post showing wearable tech and pet robots to assist elderly people or use as pet therapy for patients with Alzheimer.


I have written previously about people that consider their pets as members of their family and a trend that is growing where more pet devices are becoming available to feed our needs to treat their pets like their kids.

The Study and Application of the IoT in Pet Systems examines the ability of computation, communication, and control technologies to improve human interaction with pets by the technology of the Internet of Things, and companies like Tractive Motion, an activity tracker that logs your pet’s exercise, body temperature and exposure to sunlight, allowing you to stay on top of your pet’s fitness goals.

In the report “Mapping Smart Cities in the EU”, Smart Cities have been further defined along six axes or dimensions: Economy; Mobility; Environment; People; Living and Governance. Where to include the role of smart services for pets/animals in a Smart City is not clear yet, but in my opinion we must encourage municipal councils to enact proactive animal bylaws and to include as a new cross project inside of the portfolio of initiatives.

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