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What if you could view your neighbors’ smart security cameras?

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Streety app Image: Vivint

More and more companies are trying to sell you cameras to put outside the house. Now one of them is wondering: why not share their footage with neighbors, so more people can monitor what’s going on?

That’s the idea behind Streety, a new app from the security provider Vivint. People with Vivint security systems will be able to share footage from their outdoor cameras with neighbors, who will be able to tune into them live and post messages for others. They can also place requests to view recorded footage in case, say, they’re trying to figure out who dinged their car a couple hours ago.

Vivint is only activating the feature for outdoor cameras — not indoor ones — and the sharing has a range limit: 300 yards, or about one-sixth of a mile. That isn’t very far, which could really restrict the feature’s usefulness. In a denser neighborhood, that might cover a lot of ground; but in a more spacious suburb, it might only cover a few houses in any direction. That wouldn’t help if you’re hoping to tap into a camera down the street to see what your kid is up to.

The upside to the range limit is that it makes everything a bit more secure. People within a 300-yard radius will have to request access from each camera they want to tap into and then receive permission before they can view footage. That would offer two security barriers; so even if someone spoofed their location (Vivint says it’s taken steps to stop this), they’ll still need authorization from someone who ought to know them. People without Vivint cameras will be able to join too.

There are a lot of reasons why this system might not work out — there’s the security concerns, for one, and then just the whole thing about all your neighbors needing Vivint cameras to make it a useful network. But the idea behind it all is still something to pay attention to. With companies eager to fill and surround our homes with cameras, the next step is figuring out something helpful to do with all that footage.