Last week, I went into our local town hall in St Helier, Jersey, to pay for our dog license. There was a PDF I could download from the website, fill in a few details and then turn up and pay. There is a £10 fee for renewals made before January and £20 for later in the year to encourage early submissions.
Someone would have to input this data each year manually. I asked if there was a reminder (I’d given my email address), but this isn’t the case.
After recent tragic incidents with an American XL Bully and subsequent calls to ban this breed, there have been renewed calls for more effective dog licensing in the UK.
Time for governments to innovate
Governments must embrace innovation to enhance public services in an age where technology shapes how we interact with the world. We present an open proposal on implementing Digital Dog Licensing Platforms to revolutionise government services, improve public safety, and promote responsible pet ownership.
Drawing on the expertise of Devstars in bringing simplicity to complex problems, we outline why these platforms are essential and how they can be efficiently developed and deployed.
The Power of Digital Dog Licensing Platforms
Traditional dog licensing processes are often cumbersome, involving paperwork, manual data entry, and long queues at government offices. Digital Dog Licensing Platforms streamline this process, offering an online interface for pet owners to easily register their dogs, provide necessary information, and make secure payments. This efficiency reduces administrative burdens, slashes paperwork, and eliminates the need for physical visits. Have a look at how countries like Singapore and Estonia handle pet licensing.
Data Management Excellence
Efficient data management is pivotal for effective government services. Digital platforms allow seamless collection, organisation, and utilisation of data related to licensed dogs. Such data can be instrumental in improving services, tracking vaccination records, and monitoring dog populations.
Accessible digital platforms encourage higher compliance rates among pet owners. The ease of registration and renewal processes leads to better control of dog populations, ensures proper vaccination, and promotes responsible pet ownership.
User experience is paramount, and these platforms are designed with user-friendliness in mind. Regardless of technical proficiency, pet owners can easily navigate the registration process. This inclusivity reflects modern government services.
Our approach to software development
Over 20 years, our team have streamlined our processes to deliver effective on-budget solutions for our clients. We always recommend an MVP approach to support rapid development with low-cost overheads to develop and improve functionality in response to usage and feedback.
Whilst every project is different, our approach generally fits into x parts.
Understanding the stakeholders
We call this the human-focused bit; however, it’s a little different in this case.
So, who are the stakeholders?
- Pet owners
- People who come in contact with pets
- Government administrators
- Law enforcement
How should the system support the stakeholders?
- Pet owners: Make it as easy as possible to register, update and pay
- People who come in contact with pets: Simple reporting of concerns
- Government administrators: Less input, time better spent
- Law enforcement: Easy access to data, support lost animals, theft, danger reduction
- Pets: Increased welfare
At this stage, key stakeholders must agree and sign off on what the system should do and what benefits it should bring. In this case, we’ll make an exception for the dog/cat/snake.
Time or budget constraints may mean some functions and features need to be pushed into a later development stage. Once we have agreement on the stakeholders and key functionality, we will move on to design sprints.
Design sprints allow us to ideate a project rapidly. We start rough, often working by hand and aim to get ideas onto paper and in front of the client to provoke dialogue.
Working in a cyclical process allows us to identify what works and what doesn’t. In these stages, it’s easy to make significant changes that would be costly later in the process.
Running several design sprints provides a great way to deliver user journeys that work along with the overall site and page structure.
Getting the initial ideas in front of the stakeholders for feedback should be done early in the process and often during the design sprints.
The output of a design sprint will be a wireframe prototype developed in something like Figma or XD, along with a specification document. These combined reduce ambiguity and provide clarity to all key stakeholders (except the dog).
As with building a house or an office block, the architect and the builder must work together to define the best process, tools and materials for the build.
With custom software development, we have many tools, platforms and APIs. On a project like this, we would most likely use a framework such as Laravelle or Yii to build the site’s core structure.
Frameworks are like Lego for developers; they provide ready-made components or building blocks to speed up development.
- Data storage – The system would need to write and read from an efficient database that will grow over time. MySQL could handle this, but platforms like Elasticsearch with fuzzy search capabilities may also be worth pursuing.
- Messaging – The system must send alerts via email and text. Messaging could be managed in the system or through a 3rd party API. Domain tools like DMARC, DKIM and services such as Amazon SES can help keep emails out of spam.
- Security – Vitally important when storing user data. GDPR guidelines should be adhered to, as well as encrypting user data. Having standard operating procedures, company and client training, and regular audits is key to ensuring the highest levels of security.
Testing, Training and Delivery
Once we have conducted our internal quality assurance (QA), we present the platform to the client and follow this up with training. A user acceptance period follows, where the client runs their tests and ensures the platform does everything agreed upon for Stage One delivery.
Platform launch and ongoing
Once the platform is ready for launch, the marketing process begins. The website is pushed to live, and if available, a mailout is sent to existing dog owners, directing them to the onboarding page.
Remember to look at online/traditional advertising and promotions to encourage participation.
Once users are in the system, reminders can be sent out ahead of renewal with follow-ups if they are missed. The system should highlight the ones that got through the net so they can be followed up by traditional mail or telephone.
Why Digital Dog Licensing Platforms Are Essential
These platforms’ identification and tracking capabilities significantly enhance public safety, especially when dealing with dangerous dog breeds. By maintaining comprehensive records of licensed dogs, authorities can effectively monitor and regulate breeds known for their potential for aggression. Real-time updates enable swift responses to incidents, reducing the risk of attacks and ensuring public safety.
Addressing Anti-Social Behavior
Digital platforms empower communities to report anti-social behaviour involving dogs, such as excessive barking or unleashed dogs. Proper documentation allows authorities to address these concerns, maintaining harmony within communities.
Promoting Animal Welfare
These platforms facilitate comprehensive health and care records for licensed dogs, ensuring that dogs receive necessary vaccinations, medical attention, and proper care. Additionally, features for reporting lost or found dogs aid in reuniting lost pets with their owners, safeguarding their well-being.
Expertise of Devstars
Devstars Limited, with a track record of developing complex and secure platforms, is well-equipped to spearhead the creation of Digital Dog Licensing Platforms for government use. Our experience in building security alert systems for overseas travellers, queue timing applications for Heathrow to reduce immigration waiting times, and sophisticated research tools for the Ministry of Defense reflect our capability and dedication to delivering top-notch solutions.
Efficient Development and Deployment
Given our experience, we propose a streamlined development process:
- Needs Assessment: Collaborate with government agencies to understand their specific requirements and goals in implementing Digital Dog Licensing Platforms.
- Custom Development: Utilize our expertise to create tailored platforms prioritising security, data management, and user-friendliness.
- Testing and Quality Assurance: Rigorously test the platforms to ensure they meet the highest security, functionality, and reliability standards.
- Deployment and Training: Implement the platforms and provide comprehensive training to government personnel and end-users.
- Ongoing Support: Offer continuous support and updates to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of the platforms.
The proposal to introduce Digital Dog Licensing Platforms is not merely a technological upgrade but a commitment to improving government services, enhancing public safety, and promoting responsible pet ownership.