Good Neighbours researches how surveillance technology such as WhatsApp neighbourhood watch groups and doorbell cameras lead to connectedness and alienation in neighbourhoods. Good Neighbours, initiated by Klasien van de Zandschulp and Natalie Dixon, brings two worlds together: the practice of art and cultural studies. Through an immersive performance in a neighbourhood, actors confront visitors with ethical choices. The results become part of a larger research programme, involving urban planners, knowledge institutes and students studying design for social impact. Good Neighbours has already taken place in York and Amsterdam, and will soon also come to Utrecht.
Good Neighbours raises urgent questions about community building in a time of heightened fear and paranoia towards strangers. A very relevant project, perfectly timed and with a poignant focus. The research exposes how mobile technology and social networking can harden the way we judge and interact with other people. A strong point is that Good Neighbours not only makes people aware of the negative effects, but also demonstrates how to behave differently. The customised approach has a local focus, can easily be rolled out worldwide, and stimulates curiosity about the effects at policy and system level.