February 20th, 2024

DogWatch Hidden Fences


Our client, DogWatch®, provides a full line of pet fences and training products, such as hidden fence systems for dogs. To provide their customers with real-time access to their SmartFence® systems and to improve user experience, they wanted to replace their legacy system with a cloud-based application, supporting Android, iOS, and web platforms, with a specific focus on mobile. 

In addition, our customer was confronted with reduced reliability and increasing maintenance costs as the number of users on their legacy system grew. This resulted from an evolved system constructed by several disparate programmers using various technologies. They wanted to consolidate their systems to a single backend using consistent technologies to reduce overall maintenance costs.

Why did DogWatch® choose Impact ES? Impact ES offers full-stack software development supported by a permanent staff of skilled engineers. Our collaborative environment ensures that our team's expertise and experiences are continually shared among ourselves and our valued clients. This unified approach streamlines communication, enhances efficiency, and fosters a cohesive development process. By choosing Impact ES, DogWatch® gains the advantage of a dedicated team working seamlessly together, providing a holistic solution and ensuring a smooth and integrated development experience.

Initially, DogWatch® engaged us to help maintain an existing system approaching the end of its useful life. During our initial engagement, DogWatch® recognized our engineering approach to finding the root cause of issues and architecting solutions, making us the perfect design group to replace their legacy system. We collaborated closely with their team to understand their requirements, enabling us to present an elegant and cost-effective solution.


We developed a system that leverages Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the backend infrastructure to meet our customer's requirements. The frontend user interface was built using Flutter, an open-source framework created by Google. Flutter allows us to create natively compiled applications that run seamlessly across mobile, web, and desktop platforms, all from a single codebase.

Why did Impact ES choose a cross-platform framework for this application rather than native environments? While we design native mobile applications for customers, such as using Android Studio IDE with Java or Kotlin for Android apps or Xcode IDE with Swift for iOS apps, we chose a cross-platform solution for DogWatch®. Our engineers have experience with various programming languages and technologies. In engineering, it's common for a single problem to have multiple potential solutions. During the early stages of development, our role is to explore these solutions and carefully evaluate their pros and cons. In this case, our customer's requirement was clear: they needed the application to reach a broad audience across multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, and the web. While native environments offer unique advantages, such as platform-specific features and highly optimized performance, these capabilities were not required for this application, as the capabilities and performance provided by Flutter were more than sufficient. Therefore, opting for a cross-platform framework for this project was an excellent decision. It saved them time and development money and ensured a consistent and seamless user experience for their end customers.

Database Design

The application's design is aimed at adaptability and future-proofing. To achieve this, we meticulously integrated DynamoDB, a NoSQL database known for its scalability and flexibility. Given the absence of rigid schema requirements, opting for a non-relational database enabled us to anticipate and accommodate attribute changes over time. Cleverly designed NoSQL databases, like DynamoDB, effortlessly adapt to changes over time, sparing you from extensive maintenance. BCA's expertise ensures you enjoy this flexibility without compromising data access efficiency. Our careful design approach ensures that DynamoDB effectively aligns with the dynamic needs of the application, providing a robust foundation for seamless scalability and efficient data management.

Real-Time Data Management

The application captures real-time data from field devices, storing event data in an AWS Timestream database. A time series database like Timestream was ideal for this use case, as it could handle the high volume of transactions and allow the performance of efficient queries on data within a given time range, proving valuable in generating graphs within the frontend application that display the activity data recorded from the devices.


The application connects to REST services written in JavaScript and is deployed on a NodeJS environment under Elastic Beanstalk (EBS). Anticipating and embracing the expectation for growth, EBS is configured for auto-scaling, dynamically adjusting the number of server instances to handle varying server loads, ensuring optimal performance for app requests, and positioning our infrastructure to scale seamlessly as our user base expands. EBS's flexibility, automated management, and integration with AWS services contribute to a robust and adaptable foundation for accommodating our customers' applications' evolving needs and anticipated growth over time.

Handling Device Messages

The system must also receive device status communications from SmartFence devices configured in the field. These communications are obtained from the devices via an HTTP request. To process device communications and scale to handle increased communication volume, our solution uses AWS Lambda, which provides server-less functions initiated based on some defined event. Along with being triggered by HTTP requests, the application also uses Lambda functions triggered by modifications to DynamoDB tables.

The Lambda functions (written in JavaScript) handle requests and notify users of any problems with their SmartFence devices. Lambda functions are ideal for handling this use case. Each incoming request will initiate its instance of the Lambda function and terminate when processing is complete, providing a scalable approach to handling concurrent requests because each request will initiate its example.

Push Notifications

The legacy system could send alerts via SMS and email, but not as push notifications since there was no mobile application. The application supports push notifications on Android and iOS devices through AWS Simple Notification Service (SNS), integrated with Google's Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) for real-time updates and alerts. FCM is a popular choice, integrating well with both SNS and Flutter. Since the push notifications allowed users to get alerts straight to their phones, it was determined that the more expensive SMS notifications were no longer needed, which reduced costs for DogWatch®.

File Storage

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) was used to store both user-generated files and static resources associated with the application. The user-generated files consist of images that can be uploaded and associated with a user's pets, while the static resources are public and displayed in alert emails.


In the final stages, we successfully launched the cloud-based application on Android, iOS, and web platforms, expanding user access. Leveraging our full-stack expertise and cloud infrastructure, we seamlessly migrated customers and their data from the legacy system. By consolidating DogWatch®'s systems to a single backend using consistent technologies, the new system reduces maintenance costs by 60% and positions DogWatch® for future growth and enhancements.

At Impact ES, our design group's engineering thought process and cohesive design methodology played a pivotal role in crafting a system that is not only highly maintainable, resulting in lower ongoing costs, but also allows for seamless expansion in both user base and features. This approach ensures an excellent user experience across various phone platforms. The success of this project speaks to the benefits of our holistic design approach. As a testament to our ongoing commitment, we continue to support DogWatch® with feature updates to their new system, providing long-term value and adaptability to their evolving needs. Find out more about our capabilities and how we may be of help to you — sales@impactelectronics.com

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