You’re a huge fan of the smart home— but what about the smart neighborhood? With busy schedules and kids running (or, eep! driving) every which way, it can be a challenge to keep track of everyone’s whereabouts, not to mention the local goings-on in the area you live. The following four apps & services help you stay connected to your neighbors and—more importantly— stay safe, whether you live in a quiet suburb or a busy city.
Ring has been in the news a lot lately (their popular video doorbell and other smart security devices are about to be new members of the Amazon family), but it’s free app goes beyond your own front porch to give you neighborhood watch for the digital age. Without leaving your home, you can receive updates with real-time crime and safety alerts inputted by your neighbors, your community and local law enforcement even if you’re not at home. Think about it: Say, your teenage kids are home alone. Wouldn’t you like to know that there’s a suspicious person meandering about so you can alert them with a reminder to be safe and not answer the door to strangers? Ring works like this: By connecting to your Wi-Fi network, the app uses connected video doorbells and security cameras to send you instant alerts when people ring the doorbell or trigger the built-in motion sensors. This gives you the ability to watch over your home whether you’re on vacation—or simply upstairs putting the kids to bed.
Most kid-tracking systems require a smartphone (I use Life360 to keep track of my kids’ whereabouts), so when you’ve got kids too young for a smartphone, but you want to, say, make sure they got to the neighbor’s house ok, your options are limited. Tabs can help you keep “tabs” on your kids’ locations, no smartphone required. Instead, wearable wristband locators and sensors in your home can let you know, via a mobile app, where your kids are, indoors or out.
The system operates on a LoRaWAN network, which means you don’t have to worry about connectivity challenges since Tabs can pick up a wide-range connection that gives you about a mile of coverage (and even more, if other neighbors have the Tabs hub). This means that if your child is walking to school and there’s a Tabs hub there, they can check in when they get there. They can even send you predefined messages without using a screen, like “I’m safe!” or “You can pick me up now!”.
Forget Facebook—this free app unlocks a localized (and secure) social network for your neighborhood to help you keep track of all the goings-on from crime reports and safety tips to a neighbor’s last-minute search for a babysitter or handyman recommendations. To set it up, you have to input your address first. Nextdoor verifies that you’re not only using your real name, but that you really do live at that address before granting you access. Once you’re in, you’ve unlocked a community of people who live nearby and are eager to tap into the immense resource that is friends in proximity. Through the app, you can quickly send a mass note about a break-in or—on the more light-hearted side—rally your neighbors for a block party or weekend BBQ. The goal of the app is to give you a digital entry point to the strangers you pass every day, but who make up your community.
Vivint’s smart home security system comes with a variety of different sensors, like smart doorbells, and external cameras to keep your family safe. But now those cameras can help make the entire neighborhood safer, thanks to the Streety app. The free mobile app takes a communal approach to security by linking cameras around the neighborhood to help the whole street monitor activity— turns out, for example, that your across-the-street neighbor’s outdoor cameras has a front row seat to going’s on on your front lawn. Now, if someone steals a package or hits your car parked on the street, you can use communal footage to investigate incidents together, along with posting requests for information in the app. The app can only be accessed by people in the neighborhood, so you can rest assured that your privacy will be preserved.
Image borrowed from Wit & Delight