Finding Rover: Do not despair! Your dog/cat is waiting to be found


Nowadays, having a large amount of friends is a given due to the Internet’s expansion of our networks. However, a type of household friends that have stayed through this transition are our pets. And for some, these fury companions are more than just friends; they are family. Therefore, if one ever had a dog or cat that went missing, then they can tell you that the loss is an emotional experience for everyone involved.

This experience is exactly what drove John Polimeno in 2012 to find software developers who could help him build a facial recognition that would work even on our little companion’s furry faces. The end product was am algorithm that combines machine learning and computer vision to locate dogs and cats’ features. This tool was then launched with the app “Finding Rover”, which has been able to reunite more than a 1,000 missing dogs and cats with their owners in the US.

How does Finding Rover work?
The basic principle of the app is to connect the owner who lost his/her pet with anyone who has seen said pet. Thus, if you are the owner, you merely need to choose “Lost”, upload a photo of your pet, and select the location where you last saw it. The algorithm will then automatically compare your pet’s key features with its database of pets that were found. A similar procedure applies if you are a person who has found a stray pet. You just select “Found”, upload a picture of the pet you just saw, and select the location you found it in. The algorithm will then match your found pet with any picture of a pet that is missing. If the owner and finder are matched by the system, they get each others’ contact details. In case there is not match, the system will notify you if there is a match in the future. You can also go through the database of pictures yourself. Furthermore, as soon as you post a picture of your missing pet, anyone registered on the app in a 10-mile radius from you will be notified in order to keep an eye out for your pet.

Currently, individual users are not the only ones who employ this free lifetime membership app. Shelters across the entire US have partnered with the platform, in order to mitigate their own overflow of pets.

Which co-creation value does Finding Rover offer?

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Value: The entire value that is generated by the app for its users is based on the main advantages it offers above all other options that help you find your pet.

  1.  Other apps: While other platforms exist to find your dog or cat, all of them are merely databases of information. In other words, the owners/finders upload a picture, some key words that define the pet, and their contact details. But no real connection between those two databases takes place unless a user scrolls themselves through the entire database. Thus, Finding Rover’s algorithm, which has a 98% accurate match rate, provides for a much quicker method to connect owners and finders. Additionally, most of the other apps build communities of people missing their pets in specific states or areas, while Finding Rover cross-checks the entire country and therefore allows for a much larger search radius.
  2. Chips: While the use of microchips is a common method to identify a missing dog/cat, there is a crucial aspect that usually prevents this method from working. Normally when a pet is found wandering on the street, they are incredibly aggressive towards anyone who wants to pick them up and bring them to a veterinarian who can scan their chip. Finding Rover significantly simplifies this activity, since the finder just needs to take a picture, something they can do from a secure distance.
  3. Flyers: While flyers are the most common go-to option in the US, the app provides for the larger radius advantage over them. Therefore, if a catastrophic event happens, such as hurricanes Harvey or Irma where pets were found sometimes 2,000miles from their owners’ homes, then the app allows for people there to also be informed about the missing pet. Furthermore, as mentioned, if you upload your missing pet, anyone registered in a 10-mile radius will be informed anyways, which replaces the need for a flyer in the first place.
  4. Shelters: The main reason for why more than 500 shelters have already committed to the app, is because it actually saves them a lot of money. If a dog has to be taken into a shelter, it will usually cost the shelter around $225 to house it for some days. Thus, a lot of money has been saved, since now dogs do not even have to reach the shelter stage. And all of this at a $0 cost!

Co-: Taking  into consideration that the Finding Rover company only supplies the platform as a intermediary, the value is created C2C, namely between the people who are missing their pets and those who have found pets.

Creation: The creation of the value is completely dependent on the users’ involvement, since they are the information sources of the entire platform.

Does Finding Rover fulfill the Efficiency Criteria?

  • Joint Profitability: The platform maximizes the joint payoffs of all partners involved. Not only does the app allow the owners to find their pets quickly and save shelters a lot of costs, but it simultaneously allows for the people who find the dogs to feel an ethical fulfilment for having helped out not only the owners but also in keeping their communities safe from any aggressive, stray pets.
  • Institutional Arrangement: The company sets an incredibly high value on privacy, in order to keep everyone’s contact details as safe as possible. Before the owner’s and finder’s contact details are shared to each other, the owner must confirm that the match is correct. This has allowed that until now no privacy issues related to the users’ information have emerged and, therefore, fulfilled the most important institutional arrangement.
  • Institutional Environment: Due to the fact that this app is not only helping the community by matching owners to their missing pets but also keeping the streets safe from aggressive dogs, it has been highly recognised by different government institutions.

For more information about Finding Rover, click here.

References:
Finding Rover. (2018). Finding Rover | Let’s bring them all home.. [online] Available at: http://www.findingrover.com/

Hartley, S. (2015). Shelter takes new approach to finding lost dogs. [online] Napa Valley Register. Available at: http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/shelter-takes-new-approach-to-finding-lost-dogs/article_677ff859-47e4-59a5-b2b7-716f4f8d06db.html

Deneen, S. and Lau, E. (2015). Facial-recognition apps scout lost pets. [online] News.vin.com. Available at: http://news.vin.com/vinnews.aspx?articleId=36464

Taylor, C. (2016). Dog gone? County shelters embrace Finding Rover app. [online] NACo. Available at: http://www.naco.org/articles/dog-gone-county-shelters-embrace-finding-rover-app

Das, S. (2013). Finding Rover app tracks lost dogs using facial recognition. [online] CNET. Available at: https://www.cnet.com/news/finding-rover-app-tracks-lost-dogs-using-facial-recognition/

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