We all know that technology has changed American life for the good and sometimes bad. Along with that, new forms of crime have developed, especially in identity theft and other cyber crime. However, new ways of preventing crime also have developed.
One of those is having ways to monitor with ease what goes on around people’s homes, the places where they should be able to feel secure. The video-doorbell provider Ring allows residents to see who is at their door, whether the homeowner is at home or away. That is a valuable service, especially with the volume of deliveries many people receive in today’s changed retail environment. Appropriately enough, Ring is now owned by Amazon.
Now Ring offers a networking app called Neighbors that operates like a block watch. And police agencies have gotten involved through cooperative arrangements that allow them to receive videos taken on participants’ porches. Maricopa is one of 12 Arizona communities that are part of the effort. Despite the initial negative reaction of some people, police are not able to monitor the homes as if they had traditional surveillance cameras. What they do is put out crime alerts to participants and request the sharing of doorbell videos to help solve specific crimes without having access to live video.
This makes sense. Anyone watching TV crime dramas knows that law enforcement agencies make frequent use of commercial surveillance cameras, cellphone tracking, call logs, use of credit cards and other ways that people are tied together these days. The idea of Americans “living off the grid,” which also has been depicted in movies and on TV, is getting harder to do. Technology is part of life, and there is nothing wrong with using it to solve crimes.
Of course, protection of constitutional rights is important, too, perhaps more so with changes in technology.