Posts tagged with "Ring"

Is your police department getting the feed from Amazon’s Ring cameras? See the interactive map!

September 4, 2019

More than 400 police agencies nationwide are working with the Amazon-owned Ring home surveillance system to track unlawful activities at our doorsteps and in our neighborhoods—and now you can check to see if your local department is one of them.

Ring disclosed the number today on August 28, according to the news outlet Quartz—and, at 400, it’s double what reports had previously revealed.

The security company also published an interactive map that shows which police departments can see all the Ring cameras in a given neighborhood, and can seamlessly request the footage from those cameras,

The map also provides information on when each department started working with Ring, along with a blog post about the Ring-law enforcement partnership. The company will be updating the map as new departments are added, it says.

The release coincided with an in-depth story by The Washington Post, which disclosed the full number of agencies for the first time. According to the report by the Post, “The number of police deals, which has not previously been reported, is likely to fuel broader questions about privacy, surveillance and the expanding reach of tech giants and local police. The rapid growth of the program, which began in spring 2018, surprised some civil liberties advocates, who thought that fewer than 300 agencies had signed on.”

The Ring system includes its surveillance cameras (most famously the motion-activated camera doorbells) as well as the Neighbors app (where people can share footage from their cameras and discuss crime in their areas) and the Neighborhood Portal (where police can see a map of Ring cameras and quickly submit a request for footage during an investigation).

In recent months, ViceCNET, and Gizmodo have reported on U.S. law enforcemnt’s close relationship with the company—which, for example, gives departments discounts or free cameras to distribute among local residents. In some cases, police have used the giveaways as leverage to demand that people hand over their footage, although Ring says it is supposed to be voluntary.

The company said in a statement sent to Quartz that “customers, not law enforcement, are in control of their videos.”

Ring added: “Videos are shared through the Neighbors program only if: 1) a customer chooses to post it publicly on the Neighbors app; 2) explicit consent is provided by the customer. Law enforcement agencies who participate in the Neighbors app must go through the Ring team when making a video request to customers. Customers can choose to opt out or decline any request, and law enforcement agencies have no visibility into which customers have received a request and which have opted out or declined.”

Research contact: @ring

Shine on: A diamond made from the ashes of the dearly departed sparks joy at a proposal

August 23, 2019

When a girl gets engaged, there’s nothing she wants more than to celebrate with family and friends. But what if one of those dearest to her already has passed on?

The departed—either human or pet—can still help “spark joy” during this special time; thanks to Eterneva, a company based in Austin, Texas,  that creates lab-grown diamonds out of the carbon from remains.

One Diamond Girl (as singers Seals & Crofts would say) from Viera, Florida, learned all about the joys of wearing an Eternava engagement ring, when she was presented with one during a surprise proposal by her now-fiancé, Paul Vasso.

As The New York Times reported on August 22, Shayla Mansfield gets a lot of compliments on her diamond engagement ring. She always has the same response when she does. “Thank you, it’s actually my mother’s ashes,” says Mansfield, 29.

The bride-to-be’s mother, Shirley Mansfield, died on December 29, 2017, at age 58, from acute myeloid leukemia, the Times says; but Shayla’s longtime boyfriend was not about to leave her out of the pre-wedding revelry.

Shortly after Shayla’s much-loved mom died, Vasso saw a Facebook post that a friend shared about turning the ashes of loved ones into a diamond. After getting permission (and a portion of Shirley’s ashes) from the rest of Shayla’s family—and swearing them to secrecy—Vasso asked Eterneva to make the center stone for Shayla’s engagement ring.

Adelle Archer, 28, a founder of Eterneva, which is still a startup after two years in business, told The New York Times that the company has helped other couples transform the ashes of loved ones. “People say diamonds are forever and they’re the symbol of love and permanence,” she said. “How much more meaningful could it get than to have somebody that you hold dear, that can’t be there on your wedding day, to get to be part of that commitment that you make?”

And Eterneva is not the only firm that is capitalizing on the hereafter. LifeGem, which is based in Des Plaines, Illinois, began its ashes-to-diamonds operation in 2002. Dean VandenBiesen, 56, a company founder, said he is proud he is able to provide a personal way to pay homage to a loved one. “It brings a measure of comfort, which I think is kind of a big deal in a very difficult time,” he said.

LifeGem’s showroom allows people a chance to learn more about the process. It involves using extreme heat in a vacuum induction furnace to convert the carbon material to graphite. The graphite is then placed into a diamond press that mimics the forces deep within the earth and allows diamond crystals to form.

Only a relatively small amount of ashes are required to grow a diamond. Ms. Archer of Eterneva says a typical cremation will yield eight to 10 cups and that a half-cup can generate “at least a couple of grams of carbon,” more than enough to yield multiple diamonds. Eterneva sends back any unused ashes to customers or will store a loved one’s remains on site for an indefinite time in case the need to create a replacement diamond ever arises.

According to the Times report, because the diamonds are grown one at a time, and come in a variety of colors, they can be pricey. For $2,490, Eterneva’s clients will get a 0.1- to 0.19-carat accent diamond. It’s $20,199 for a black diamond 1.0 to 1.24 carats; this is the most expensive and difficult to produce of all the colors, according to Ms. Archer. LifeGem’s top-tier diamonds are $24,999 for a 1.5-carat red or green variety.

Research contact: @nytimes

Amazon’s Ring to distribute local true-crime news

May 1, 2019

if you work outside the home, until recently you had very few ways to keep track of the workmen, friends, and family who beat a path to your front door—no less, those with criminal intent.

However, Amazon’s March 2018 acquisition of the Ring security system—which comprises outdoor motion-based cameras and a video doorbell that connects to your smartphone—has changed all that. Now, users can view whoever and whatever turns up at their doorway (the good, the bad, and the ugly) in real time.

And now, Fast Company reports, the company is hiring—and not for a tech job or a member of the logistics team, as would be expected. The position (Job ID: 836421) posted on the Amazon website is described as Managing Editor, News.

According to the posting, the Managing Editor, News, “will work on an exciting new opportunity within Ring to manage a team of news editors who deliver breaking [true] crime news alerts to our neighbors.

Obviously, your closest neighbors would want to know if there are folks with criminal intent in the neighborhood—and Amazon is snatching that lucrative beat away from local news provider Patch.

Based on the job description, Fast Company notes, the right candidate will have “deep and nuanced knowledge of American crime trends,” “strong news judgment that allows for quick decisions in a breaking news environment,” and at least three years in management. Hopefully, they aren’t looking for a candidate with three years of management in Internet doorbell news management, because we’re going to guess that person does not exist.

Ring’s Neighbors App would be the perfect distribution network for such news. According to the Ring website, it already provides “real-time crime and safety alerts from your neighbors, law enforcement, and the Ring team.”

As Nieman Lab notes, Americans perceive that crime is rising even when it’s not. A 2016 Pew survey found that only 15% of Americans believed (correctly) that crime was lower in 2016 than it had been in 2008; versus 57% who thought it had gotten worse. True crime stories and apps that turn every person on the street into a potential threat undoubtedly add to the problem.

That said, the more petrified the world is, the more likely you are to buy a crime-fighting doorbell, right?

Research contact: @ring