Easy (And Free) Neighborhood Text Alert Systems With Groupme
Today I set up a neighborhood crime watch text alert system with Groupme. If you’re in Corktown and want to join just lemme know, and if you want to try setting one up for your street or neighborhood, it’s super easy. Just go to the website and sign up with your name, email, and phone number. You’ll be able to start a group, name it, and add people to it in just a couple minutes. Great, simple user-experience.
Something to keep in mind is that groups are normally capped at 25 people. I heard from Bob Anderson who started one in Hubbard Farms that he reached out to Groupme and they uncapped the limit for him given the purpose of the group. The world being small, when I tweeted that I was making a group too, my friend Chris Carella who I used to work with at The Electric Sheep Company (building things in Second Life back in the day) replied that he works at Groupme now and to just email email@example.com to get that taken care of. Awesome.
Here’s the message that I sent out to the existing neighborhood google group which might be a helpful template if you start one and want to invite neighbors:
I just set up a very simple group text messaging list for reporting crime in the neighborhood. If you’d like to be on the list please respond to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and phone number and I’ll add you. You’ll receive a text message from a phone number that you can add to your contacts as Corktown Crime (or something similar so you’ll remember what it is).
The way it works is once you’re on the list if you send a text message to the number you will instantly message all other members of the group. Accordingly you’ll also receive texts from all other members. The service I’m using is called http://groupme.com and it works with absolutely any phone that does basic text messaging.
There is a gentleman in Hubbard Farms named Bob Anderson who recently set up a list for his neighborhood and they’ve been getting great use out of it. This is a short interview Charles Pugh did with him about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0utiOTHmKjc .
With a system like this it’s important to only text everyone when something criminal has just happened that people should know about or that you need immediate help on. Here are some good and bad examples:
• Someone just stole my car on the corner of X and Y.
• [God forbid] Someone is breaking into my house at 555 Neighbor St!! Someone come help!
• I just saw someone smash a window and get into a red van on the corner of Bad Boy and What You Gonna Do.
• What’s up everybody? Enjoying a crime-free weekend I hope.
• Help! I can’t find my keys!
• lasstt caaallL @ bArrr woo000
If you join the list and change your mind for any reason you will be able to leave the list at any time. If people stay on topic and only use it for actionable awareness and emergencies this could become an incredibly powerful way reduce crime in the neighborhood, understand patterns, and increase awareness about where things are happening. Please feel free to share this message with your neighbors and others in Corktown who may wish to join.
Be good and stay safe,