White Baltimore's Perceptions of Digital Neighborhood Watch
MetadataShow full item record
Type of Work116 leaves
DepartmentUniversity of Baltimore. Yale Gordon College of Arts & Sciences
ProgramInteraction Design & Information Architecture, M.S.
RightsAttribution 3.0 United States
This item may be protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. It is made available by the University of Baltimore for non-commercial research and educational purposes.
SubjectsBaltimore City Neighborhoods
Digital Neighborhood Watch
Home Security Camera
Facebook Neighborhood Groups
Baltimore City Crime
Baltimore City has a national reputation as a dangerous city, and statistically, it’s true. Baltimore has higher than average rates of violent and property crime. In an effort to increase the safety of their homes and neighborhoods, many residents have purchased Wi-Fi-enabled home or doorbell security cameras to deter criminal activity and to assist in criminal identification if and when a crime does occur. Neighborhood communities have formed online groups on platforms such as Facebook and Nextdoor where these incidents are discussed, and video footage is shared, serving as a digital neighborhood watch. As technology continues to advance and new crime alert apps enter the market, questions have emerged as to how this increase in awareness of criminal activity may be impacting residents’ perceptions of safety, privacy, and security. Ultimately, understanding the impact of this technology on individuals will inform a discussion on whether or not digital neighborhood watch groups and technologies in their various forms are having a positive impact on the perception of neighborhood safety and how this may impact resident growth, retention, and overall neighborhood health. This study utilized two rounds of research, focusing on two areas of inquiry; (1) the usage and sharing of public-facing home security camera footage and (2) the usage of online social platforms and mobile apps that residents have used to facilitate digital neighborhood watch groups. The first round of research was comprised of an online survey that reached 289 Baltimore City residents and the second being 12 individual in-depth interviews targeting four Baltimore City neighborhoods; Canton, Federal Hill, Hampden, and Mt. Washington. The results of this research show that (1) residents feel safer when home security cameras are present in their neighborhood (2) residents’ value security over privacy and are willing to forgo privacy in public spaces to increase their safety (3) residents are willing to share their home security camera footage with their neighbors and the police in order to assist in criminal investigations, as long as the footage is being shared and not accessed freely in the form of a live video feed. However, there was no consistency to how people felt about and interacted with neighborhood watch groups and crime alert apps. The notifications were found to cause anxiety and negatively impact perception of safety in some, yet comforted others by helping them to feel better informed.
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