Neighborhood Watch Goes Digital

A new web-based tool released this week by the National Association of Neighborhood Watch Organizations is designed to quickly disperse important information to help keep local communities safe.

Wireless alerts—like those from the Amber Alerts system and the National Weather Service—have become widely used tools to prompt quick action in emergency situations. This week, an association added a new technology to the list of go-to wireless alert systems.

The web-based tool, created by the National Association of Neighborhood Watch Organizations, Inc. (NANWO) and launched Thursday at the National Association of Realtors’ annual conference, is designed to alert local communities of an incident or important information through text messaging.

“This is a tool to bring the neighborhood watch into the digital era.”

The incidents might be big or small, NANWO notes on the site: “If there is a problem in the neighborhood such as a missing bicycle, a series of damaged mailboxes, or an unidentified person walking around checking doors to see if any are unlocked, any member has the capability to report the situation through this site. Reports of larger problems, such as a peaceful demonstration gone wrong or widespread acts of civil disobedience, can be closely monitored by every individual member.”

“This technology is not meant to replace neighborhood watch,” NANWO CEO Rodney Russell said in a statement. “This is a tool to bring the neighborhood watch into the digital era. Our goal is to keep each other informed about the happenings where we live, work, and play.”

Those who sign up to use the tool—which has a $6 annual fee and is free for law enforcement officials—will be able to report any activity that they see happening in their neighborhood, view a map of events that others have reported, and search through a list of detailed events to submit updates and post comments.

“Imagine all of the benefits an application such as NANWO can provide to schools, law enforcement, cities, states, and the country,” Joel Black, CTO of NANWO and owner of Black Bear Design, the web design company behind the tool, said in the statement. “If a suspicious character was lurking around a school, a single person with NANWO and a smartphone could blast out a text to everyone at the school, parents in the area, law enforcement, and school officials within seconds.”

The organization is currently working with local law enforcement agencies, encouraging them to sign up for and engage with the service. NANWO said the tool could be used for historical event information, tracking, and possibly even crime prediction and prevention.

(photo by V31S70/Flickr)

Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!