Who can forget neighborly figures like Ned Flanders or Wilson? Neighbors are a mixed blessing. They can be both irritatingly present and convenient comrades. Whether you’re friendly with your neighbors or not, short of moving, you’re stuck with them, and as a result being a good neighbor is a major cultural trope. After all, isn’t there an insurance jingle about being “like a good neighbor?” If we have a close neighborhood group where we get along with our neighbors, then we have a large group of friends and acquaintances nearby. Neighborhoods provide a place where kids can play and adults can interact…they make us feel a little less isolated. But neighbors don’t only provide social benefits, they also are perhaps one of the most important security countermeasures against theft and intrusion.
Living in a neighborhood you gradually develop a sense of the ordinary. You know who’s usually around and you develop normal patterns of life. You know the one neighbor who is gone a lot, or the neighbor who mows his lawn at 7:30 on Saturday morning when you’re trying to sleep, or the neighbor who always tries to organize block parties and other neighborhood events. You don’t even have to be the dreaded “nosey neighbor” to get a sense of what’s normal and what’s abnormal for the neighborhood. Without even having to make plans, neighbors can easily alert the appropriate authorities if something is amiss.
The neighborhood can do even more to improve security if people make plans. A good first step is exchanging contact information with the people that live within sight of your home. Even better, a list of contact information for the whole neighborhood would give a good way for people to contact each other if something is amiss. If you’re closer with your neighbors, you can also plan to pick up one another’s packages and mail when one is away. Clearly, neighborhoods where people talk to and look out for each other are happier places to live and more secure. Strength in numbers, after all.
A major obstacle to close neighborhood communities is the difficulty of communicating. If everyone is pretty busy and has no immediate reason to communicate, it’s very easy for neighbors to not talk to each other. After all, we no longer live in a society where neighbors all work together and depend on one another for their daily livelihood. The good news is that digital social networking can help. Facebook groups provide a really easy means of communication. Nextdoor is another great social network based on your neighborhood. These apps are making it easier than ever to connect with your neighbors to develop stronger, more secure, and more pleasant communities.