The Neighbors feature, which is only available in the US, alerts Ring owners about crimes within five miles of their property. Currently, it also allows Police and Fire departments, in all but two US states, to email Ring owners directly and request footage from their video doorbell or home security camera when investigating incidents.
However, from Monday, June 7 this will no longer be the case – instead, public safety agencies will be able to issue a public post, known as a ‘Request for Assistance’, which can be seen in the Neighbor app’s feed. If owners want to respond with information or footage it’s entirely up to them.
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Ring said it was making the change because it “believes transparency and accountability are crucial to safer, better communities” and Request for Assistance posts are opt-in and can be removed from your feed in the Neighbor app at any time. If you previously opted-out of private video requests, then you won’t see Request for Assistance posts in your feed either.
If you do want to respond to a Request for Assistance post, just click the link in the post to share videos or information privately and securely.
Analysis: More like social media and less intrusive
Ring has always maintained that public safety departments can’t access live-feeds or recordings from Ring-branded video doorbells or home security cameras automatically, and it’s entirely optional whether device owners share their footage following a private request. However, for some these footage requests may have felt intrusive.
These new Request for Assistance posts are a healthy compromise and on the surface appear no different to posts made on social media appealing for witnesses when incidents occur.
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Carrie-Ann Skinner was formerly Homes Editor at TechRadar, and has more than two decades of experience in both online and print journalism, with 13 years of that spent covering all-things tech. Carrie specializes in smart home devices such as smart plugs and smart lights, as well as large and small appliances including vacuum cleaners, air fryers, stand mixers, and coffee machines. Carrie is now a copy editor at PWC.