Call today announced that local government agencies can have an official presence on the company’s Neighbors app.
Starting with the City of North Port and Pinellas County Government in Florida and the City of Fulton in New York, the new program enables government organizations to provide safety information through Neighbours, the Amazon company’s neighborhood watch feature that alerts users to suspected crimes and events.
“Local government agencies, such as county and city governments and their departments, play an important role in public safety,” Ring wrote in a blog post published this afternoon. “This pilot program will enable users in selected municipalities to receive more safety information, updates and tips from a larger group of local authorities, all in one place.”
Participating local government agencies have public profiles in Neighbors that users can visit to view their activities and posts. Ring notes that the program does not allow the agencies to submit a “request for help” to neighbors, a capability that allows law enforcement to ask the public for help with an active investigation. For the time being, that will be reserved for the police forces that work with Ring.
While useful on the surface, the new Ring program is unlikely to win over consumer advocates who have argued that the company’s devices pose a security threat. As londonbusinessblog.com previously reported, Ring has a history of sharing footage with the government without users’ consent. Between January and July of this year alone, Amazon shared footage of the Ring doorbell with US authorities 11 times without notifying the owners of the device.
Ring has been criticized for working narrow with thousands of police departments across the US, enabling law enforcement to request video doorbell camera images from homeowners through Neighbors. Ring only began disclosing its law enforcement connections after the U.S. government issued demands for company transparency.