Watchdogs is a new project that hopes to change people’s perception of stray dogs. By strapping cameras linked to a mobile phone app onto the chests of soi dogs, ad people Pakornkrit “Kak” Khantaprab, Chayada “Nokyoong” Sungtong and Satit Jantawiwat believe they can create a safer society that values its roaming, easy-to-spook homeless animals. Here, Kak and Nokyoong explain how their idea works.

Can you tell us about this project?

Kak: Stray dogs are known to instinctively bark at strange things. We have given them vests with a hidden CCTV camera inside that, every time the dog barks, sends a notification to a linked mobile app. That way, people in the community will be alerted every time the dog barks angrily at something, whether it’s a fire or a burglar, and they can see the footage in real-time.

How did you come up with this idea?

Kak: We saw the problem with stray dogs in Thailand and how they are seen as useless. Since we can’t get rid of them, we wanted to make them a useful part of the community. 
Nokyoong: I’m personally quite sensitive about this whole stray dogs situation. I once saw a taxi driver run over a dog and speed away. So I wanted to do something to help.

How far along are you with the project?

Kak: About 60-percent done. Our mechanics are working closely with the dogs, to key-input the different types of bark, making the application and the bark sensor even more accurate.
Nokyoong: We are close to finishing. We just need to develop the vest batteries to make them lighter, so the dog is more comfortable wearing it.
Kak: We want to go out and do real testing with the community by the end of the year.

What’s the next step?

Kak: We have to find a local community that’s interested in trying it out. Then we will tailor-make the vests for the dogs, depending on their size and the quantity of strays. We are working with the Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket. Their team is close to some local communities and are going to help us approach them, so the first trial will be in Phuket. 

What do you hope to achieve with Watchdogs?

Kak: We just want people to think of stray dogs differently; to see that they are not useless and that both the people and dogs can live together in a community and help each other.

Who is funding this project?

It’s an initiative by Cheil [the ad agency that Kak and Nokyoong work for], though we have been approached by other companies who want to sponsor it as well. Everything is still in the discussion stage. Choltanutkun Tun-atiruj