How Ring's 'Neighbors' App Creates Safer, More Connected Communities
by Jamie Siminoff, Founder & CEO, Ring
Last May, Ring launched the Neighbors app, a big step toward making security accessible and affordable for everyone. Neighbors is a security solution that every community member, regardless of whether or not they own a Ring device, can use. When communities work with one another, safer neighborhoods become a reality – it's as simple as that. The Neighbors app enables community members – and, in some cases, law enforcement – to work together in order to reduce crime. We are humbled by the impact Neighbors has had since it launched – here are some of my favorite examples:
Neighbors is a major step forward in advancing the Ring mission, which has been clear and enduring since I created Ring four years ago: to reduce crime in neighborhoods. We, as a company, are unapologetically passionate about this. Our dedication to our mission is evident in our relentless pursuit of building a world-class security company. Our customers share with us their stories on how Ring helped them identify a package thief or how Ring helped them prevent a break-in every single day, which continues to inspire me and the Ring team to stay focused on putting an end to neighborhood crime and creating a positive impact for our neighbors.
Criminals and thieves take note: our team is working tirelessly to stop you and make safer neighborhoods for our families to live in.
Our customers and Neighbors app users place their trust in us to help protect their homes and communities and we take that responsibility incredibly seriously. Here is the promise we have made to our customers and users:
- Users have full control of who views their Ring footage. Only the content that a user chooses to make publicly available on Neighbors (by posting it to the app) can be viewed via the Neighbors app or by local law enforcement.
- Ring does not view or share a user's videos that are not posted to the app without the user's express permission or a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us.
- Ring will continue to innovate on behalf of our customers to help make neighborhoods safer. We will do so with our customers, their privacy, and the security of their information at the top of our priority list. We know that our customers place a huge amount
At the end of the day, we want to use technology in a way that helps people and creates safer communities. Neighbors is an incredible resource for anyone who wants to join us in that fight and that's why I love the Neighbors app so much – it provides a place for community members to come together and have a real conversation about what's happening in their neighborhoods. We realize that there are many intricacies involved in fighting crime and facilitating community discussions so we have outlined exactly how Neighbors works below. But we are always looking at ways to improve our services and want to hear your suggestions, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When we band together on a network like Neighbors, neighborhood criminals don't stand a chance.
How Neighbors Works
- Download Neighbors on iOS and Android and opt-in to join your neighborhood (U.S. only).
- We do not display personal information like names in the Neighbors app, and we do not share personal information with other users of the app.
- Customize the geographic area you want to receive notifications for (users must verify where they are located). Your Neighbors app feed is hyper-local and features content posted by users who live near you. We built the app this way so that the content in the app is relevant to you and your community.
- Receive real-time crime and safety alerts from your neighbors, local law enforcement and the Ring team.
- View local crime and safety posts via a live feed or interactive map.
- Share text updates, photos and videos taken on any device, including but not limited to Ring's home security devices. Only content that a Neighbors user chooses to share on the Neighbors app is publicly accessible through the Neighbors app or by your local law enforcement.
- Work with your community to make neighborhoods safer.
Using Neighbors Responsibly
Neighbors is designed to be an open space for people who wish to make their community safer. Our aim is to keep Neighbors content and conversations focused on crime and safety while allowing for constructive and open communication between community members. Therefore, everyone who uses Neighbors must adhere to the Community Guidelines. Per those guidelines, Ring does not tolerate discrimination, threats, or bullying, and we encourage users to treat their neighbors (and those visiting and passing through the neighborhood) with respect. We also provide guidance, encouraging users to carefully consider the behavior that made them suspicious of others and whether such suspicion is reasonable, and not post pictures or videos of people taken where they had a reasonable expectation of privacy without their knowledge or consent (for example, users should not post photos or videos of their neighbor's backyard).
We believe event detection, notification, and communication can foster stronger and safer communities, but accuracy and accountability are equally important. A dedicated group of Ring team members proactively moderates content before it is posted to the Neighbors app to ensure all posts are in accordance with the Community Guidelines. Plus, users have the power to flag incorrect or inappropriate content on Neighbors directly in the app. Our team reviews flagged posts and, if the content violates one of our Community Guidelines, it will be removed from the content feed. When we deny posts as part of our pre-moderation process, we send an email to the Neighbors user who submitted the post to let them know why. By educating our users on why their post did not make it to their feed, we reinforce our guidelines and help our users make responsible decisions.
Equally important, we welcome feedback from our communities and are always looking at ways to improve our service. We recognize the intricacies involved in an app like Neighbors and understand that the issues of crime and safety need to be approached with compassion and balance.
Local Law Enforcement on Neighbors
Neighbors partners with local law enforcement so they can share official, important crime and safety updates and work together with their local community to build trust and make neighborhoods safer. We are proud to have partnerships with many law enforcement agencies across the country in states including Florida, California, and Texas. When new law enforcement agencies come on board, we announce the partnership in-app via a regional announcement so users are aware. We've also taken care to design these partnerships in a way that keeps users in control.
When using Neighbors, law enforcement see the same interface that all users see; the content is the same, the exact locations of posts are obfuscated, and the user's personal identity is not displayed. There are two key differences, though: 1) law enforcement can view public posts from within their jurisdiction (instead of just their ‘neighborhood') and 2) law enforcement posts are identified so users can clearly see that they are the source of the content. This means that posts or comments made by law enforcement are clearly marked with their official title and name.
Law enforcement can only view the publicly available content in the Neighbors app, unless a user explicitly and voluntarily chooses to share their own recordings with law enforcement (more on how this works below). Exact locations of devices and user information are never provided to law enforcement without a user's express permission or a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us.
Law enforcement can request information from users within their jurisdiction (Ring sends the official request to users). Law enforcement must reference a relevant case number in order to make a request within a specific, limited time range and area. Ring will then ask a targeted group of users in that area if they are willing to share any relevant footage with law enforcement. It's then up to the user to share their video file(s) or decline the request. Users can also opt out of all future requests by law enforcement. Again, Ring will not release user information without a user's express permission or a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us.
For more information about these programs, email Neighborhoods@ring.com.