One of the largest challenges I witnessed as an AmeriCorps member was the curse of blight. Blight can be difficult to define, but you know it when you see it. As I walked down the streets of the neighborhoods I served, the rundown homes, boarded up businesses, and crumbling schools all painted a picture of communities who had been visited by this foe.
In last week’s post, I showed how abandoned homes are the cancer that cause blight. Once vacant homes start to appear, they become magnets for criminal activities that drive down the fortunes of a community. It is for these reasons that I’m working with COPR Security to get a technology into the hands of these most blighted communities so that we can begin to turn the tide.
Today, I want to share about this technology and why I believe it is the best first tool for communities experiencing the onset of blight.
Why vacant homes? Vacant homes are difficult to secure. Additionally, as more and more homes go vacant on a block, it becomes less likely that neighbors will notice the criminal activity they attract. Once homes become targets for copper thieves, they are quickly vandalized. Most thieves can cause over $10k in damage in around 30 minutes. Once this happens to several homes in a community, it becomes very challenging for anyone to stop the cycle of community decline.
Why is it important that it’s mobile? Vacant homes have historically been difficult to secure with any standard security system because they often require installation and contracts. By providing a mobile system, we empower community non-profits to quickly and efficiently secure the vacant homes in their areas of impact.
What does the tower look like? We’ve put together the video below which details the tower:
How does it work? The tower is essentially a hub for proven security equipment such as glass break monitoring and photo monitoring. It is designed so that anyone working with a community organization can easily bring the tower to a vacant home and secure it within 15-20 minutes. It also runs off cellular towers – this is important because it allows the tower to transmit information directly to nonprofits and the authorities the moment criminal activity begins to occur in a home.
Combating blight is a multi-pronged process. It requires dedication from the community, from city government, and from businesses. It is also a process that begins with security. If neighborhoods are not viewed as safe places first, then all other community enrichment efforts are destined to fail. This is why COPR is devoted to donating this mobile technology: because it will lay the foundation for safe communities where all urban residents feel they have a stake in their city’s future.