Do Neighborhood Social Apps Such as NextDoor Prevent Crime?

Posted on August 2, 2017 by Jaece Hogue

If you’re like the rest of us, you probably have that one nosy neighbor that knows what everyone else on the block is up to.  Over a cup of morning coffee, they’ll happily share that Janice down the street got a little bit tipsy two nights ago.  Marvin at the end of the block, well he’s upset that Jim next door cut his bushes back a tad too much.  And let’s not even get started about how many dates that Williams girl has been on this year.

When used for idle gossip, this type of behavior can go from harmless to annoying to downright creepy in an instant.  But a new social media platform has capitalized on keeping a neighborly eye on things, taking it to the next level as a potential crime prevention tool.  So just what are these apps and do they really work to prevent crime in a neighborhood?  As with most things, the answer is a bit complicated.

A Neighborly Approach to Social Media

The largest in the growing field of social apps, NextDoor is cornering the market when it comes to helping neighborhoods track suspicious activity and monitor crime.  It works much like Facebook or other traditional social media venues but instead of connecting people based on common interests it focuses on geography.  Once a single person in a neighborhood signs up on the app they have 20 days to sign up at least 10 more people from the neighborhood.  Once this threshold has been met, neighbors can exchange messages, photos, warnings and more.

A Useful Tool for Neighborhood Safety

Real-world examples of the efficacy of the app have been easy to come by.  In communities across the country neighbors are tracking crime and even sharing the information with local law enforcement.  The result has been raids, arrests and anecdotal lowering of crime rates in areas where the app is put to use.  Local police contacts have even been assigned by communities to monitor the various neighborhoods to help identify patterns and monitor suspicious activity.

So, What’s the Problem

While these apps are conceptually useful and can be great tools in real life, much like that nosey neighbor next door there is always the potential for too much of a good thing.  A resident from two streets over is reported as a potential burglar.  A neighborhood kid walking to school is listed as a potential vandal.  Maybe police even respond to some of these alerts.  Before you know it you have the classic “boy that cried wolf” scenario where hyper vigilance gives way to a “not again” type of mentality.

Local police also have expressed concerns for these types of apps to not become a replacement for picking up the phone and calling authorities in the event you witness an actual crime.  While police attempt to monitor apps such as NextDoor in real time, the reality is that it’s near impossible for law enforcement to do their jobs and watch every post, as they happen.

The Bottom Line

While innovation in social media can certainly be helpful tools for communicating among neighbors, NextDoor and similar apps should never replace good old-fashioned home security.  The security experts at A-1 Locksmiths know how to best utilize a variety of tools to protect your home and possessions.  Call A-1 today and find out why your nosey neighbor has nothing on us when it comes to real security.

 

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