When a neighborhood in Dallas had a rash of packages stolen, the residents notified each other instantly. Their phones were connected to Ring doorbells that flashed video of the female porch pirate as she went from house to house. Using Ring’s Neighbor network, they quickly messaged each other and contacted the police. Thanks to the clear video of the thief’s face, the police were able to identify and arrest her – finding her in an apartment filled with hundreds of stolen boxes.
Technology like Ring devices and the connected Ring Neighbors app are helping communities across the country to develop a high-tech neighborhood watch organization. It starts with video-enabled doorbells, security cameras and lighting that begin recording when motion is detected. A message is sent to the owner’s phone, notifying them of activity, and the recorded video is saved in the Cloud to be accessed from anywhere. Using the Ring Neighbors app allows community members to send a notification of suspicious activity to people within their geographic area to warn each other and keep on top of potentially dangerous situations.
Capabilities like these interested the Ancient Tree Community Association’s (ATCA) Safety Committee. In this Northbrook, Illinois community of 300 homes, the committee was tasked to research and implement affordable technology to enhance community safety. Their association’s bylaws stipulated that the association was responsible for providing security, and during the busy summer months, a part-time security patrol drove around the community from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. The Safety Committee realized that connecting participating homes via a Ring network would provide coverage at a lower cost, while having immediate information at every corner of the community.
ATCA consists of single family homes on cul-de-sacs, townhomes, and condominiums. The committee recommends that owners of single family and townhomes install video doorbells and whichever other security items the owners preferred. In the condo building, they also propose to add stick-up cameras to access doors and the garage entrance, and the board is looking into the ability and cost of providing a single building wide Wi-Fi network that all cameras would be tied into.
Additional cameras will be placed around the community clubhouse and monitored by the Safety Committee. In the future, they may expand condo build coverage to the hallway and garbage collection area, but will they will first build confidence in the system before tackling what some perceive to be an intrusion to their privacy.
Because of the wide field of vision for the video cameras, and the ability of neighbors to warn each other, not all owners needed the devices, but with enough participation, the entire community would be protected. “Once word gets out that we have this home security network, criminals will leave us alone,” said committee leader Jim Crowley. “We don’t have a crime problem here, but we also don’t have a secured perimeter such as fencing or a wall around our property.”
The Ring technology plan is only part of a comprehensive strategy at ATCA. Property Manager Kim Hart explains, “The association also has a traditional neighborhood watch network with ‘Court Captains’ at each cul-de-sac. These leaders maintain contact information for their neighbors, keep them informed about safety issues and initiate a phone tree calling plan in an emergency.”
The homeowners who attended the meeting were interested to watch a real-life notification from one of the Safety Committee members. He had received in a warning in the middle of the night from his recently-installed backyard floodlight camera. When the camera detected movement, it turned on the lights and camera. Gradually, the offender moved into view – a slow-moving raccoon. Had it been a real intruder – or a skunk or coyote that the neighbors should know about before they let their dog out – the owner could send a warning and share the video with anyone who had opted into the Neighbor network.
The Safety Committee introduced the Ring technology expressly to take advantage of the Neighbor app. While there are various competing brands, the neighborhood watch concept provided the most value in their proactive safety strategy. A good proportion of homes armed with cameras, paired with three security cameras around the clubhouse and community areas, will provide sufficient eyes and ears to detect and report crime. In addition, each device is relatively inexpensive and easy to install, and the Ancient Tree community was able to receive a bulk discount from the manufacturer.
A solution that provides 24×7, 365-day safety coverage, while saving the Association $20,000 each year for the cost of the part-time security patrol, is truly a win-win for the Ancient Tree Community Association!