Why leaning in to noise complaints can lead to the best outcomes
Updated: Aug 11
Recently I spoke with a Ranger in a Council operating to the far East of Melbourne. Many - but certainly not all - councils deploy tactics that discourage their residents from reporting noise complaints. This ranger took the opposing approach - she lent in to these complaints, picking up her phone, and dealing with them head on.
Her results may surprise. Her method was one of advocacy, and I will refer to it as method 2.
The council had previously insisted on noise-diaries as Step 1 in their complaints procedure. Let's call this the traditional method or Method 1.
By leaning in and having conversations early in the piece with owners she was able to reduce the number of call logs from 150-200 from 600 complaints via Method 1 down to ~ 20 logs for the same number of complaints for Method 2. Her experience was that upfront effort led to more effective resolution of these matters and less aggrieved residents because the problem - even at the stage when it was not yet proven or disproved - was acknowledged.
Now NoiseNet loves this! We want to see other Rangers having these same results. This ranger was a very effective communicator and her success was largely down to a firm investment of her time in mediation between residents in order to
uncover when the dog was barking problematically and in getting dog owners to commit to addressing their dogs behaviour in some small way to ensure the matter improved.
Despite best intentions not every ranger is going to have the time or confidence or motivation to arrest the issue and move it forward to resolution with no additional tools to assist them in this process.
That's where NoiseNet adds value. We provide 24/7 data so you don't need to do sit outs at complainant's premises and hustle to work out what the answer is to the issue. Our data will clarify when the dog barking is severe or sustained enough to be considered a problem or if there is a noise issue in play. From there you have objective information to mediate quickly between the dog owner and complainant by simply discussing the data and this aids the dog owner to understand how to take action to remedy the issue. If the dog owner fails to take action you have data to act as burden of proof for enforcement, but it is less likely you will get to this stage.
This is also particularly valuable where enforcement is not too deterring, providing little incentive for dog owners to modify their behaviour. For example in Victoria, the fine for an unregistered animal ($150) is greater than a first offence nuisance barking fine ($70 as reported by this specific council). The Dashboard data provided by NoiseNet assists regulators and residents to see the situation in an objective light and by understanding the problem it can then be addressed fairly.
Noise Diary data is useful but we recognise that the act of recording data such as this - as the only source of information on the noise - can create residents that are hyper-aware of the noise having spent two weeks focused intently on it with no other objective information to compliment their findings. This can exacerbate their unhappiness.
Residents are happier because you can acknowledge them from the get go, leaning in to the complaint.
Complaints are resolved in a more timely manner.
As a result you aren't plagued by the affected residents hassling you on an ongoing basis. And they can relax as well knowing someone has their back.
Noise diaries are very valuable in combination with the dashboard but the dashboard can act as standalone unbiased data.
Noise regulators that we deal with are seeing the results of deploying our services. Less backlog of cases, quicker resolution, less vexatious callers, more satisfied residents, better investigative results.
Enquire with us today to learn more about how we can do this for you.