Ring – the Amazon-owned home security system company best known for its video doorbell – caught the attention of industry observers recently, but not because of its product lineup. Instead, an open position listed on Amazon’s jobs page triggered concerns that the corporation would be using crime reports, i.e. fear, to protect its own interests. What’s going on? We took a deeper look to find out more.
Help Wanted: Crime News Editor in the Marketing Department
Earlier this week, Amazon posted a help wanted ad seeking a Managing Editor, News for Ring’s marketing and public relations department. Alongside relevant editorial and writing experience, the incumbent requires nuanced knowledge of American crime trends. Job responsibilities include identifying “compelling and actionable new alert formats and test markets for pilot programs.”
This description suggests that Ring/Amazon has plans for increased crime notifications within its suite of products. It prompted reports from Neiman Lab, Business Insider, Digital Trends (which has since removed its article, but an archived version can be seen here) and others, all containing some degree of questioning about Amazon’s plans in the home security space and what it could mean for homeowners.
Business Insider points out that proactive crime alerts and communication between Ring owners could help curb package thefts and therefore support Amazon’s best financial interests. The Neiman Lab piece expresses outright distrust and suspicion: Is Ring planning to flood homeowners with crime alerts that lead to unsubstantiated fear… and increased home security sales?
Why Does A Home Security Company Need Crime Reporting?
“Ring has been reporting relevant crime and safety news in real-time to neighborhoods via the Neighbors app,” a spokesperson for Ring confirmed to Safety.com. “The job posting being referenced is for an existing position on the Neighbors team.”
Neighbors is a free mobile app by Ring with an interface similar to a Facebook news feed. Dubbed the new neighborhood watch, the app allows Ring owners and non-owners alike to share information about crimes, safety, lost pets, suspicious observations and individuals as well as footage from security cameras. Posts include location information but are otherwise reported anonymously.
While most of the Neighbors feed is user-generated video, Ring confirmed that the news team is responsible for delivering real-time reports based on crime and safety information gathered from risk reporting agencies, certified social media accounts, public safety systems and many other sources. These posts are listed under “News” or “News Team” within the Neighbors app; they also may be accompanied by push notifications and safety calls-to-action, such as instructions to avoid the area. News reports are not user-generated.
Ring products have proven effective at deterring crime and catching perpetrators in several circumstances, including in police partnerships. In one notable 2016 experiment, Ring partnered with the Los Angeles Police Department to install video doorbells in 41 of 400 of Wilshire Park, California homes. Neighborhood burglaries were cut by more than half compared to the year prior. Several metropolitan police departments encourage households to use the Neighbors app, including those in Richmond, Virginia, Naper, Illinois and several in Florida.
The Bottom Line: Make an Informed Decision
Surely, there are many people who would consider Ring’s products and services a net positive, even with the aforementioned concerns of fear-mongering, invasive marketing and individual privacy. There are many good reasons why individual homeowners would opt into Ring products: affordability, flexibility, ease of use and integration with Alexa, to name a few.
Nevertheless, there are many options that boast similar perks. If you’re considering a video doorbell, security camera or any other home security system, make an informed decision that includes evaluation of device quality, network connectivity, data collection and storage, hackability, privacy and your own personal values.
Every home security system and device has its pros and cons. Which choice is the best for your family? Safety.com is here to help inform your buying decisions and protect what matters most. Start with our comparisons of monitored home security systems, security cameras and video doorbells.