A question that should be asked when deciding what business to put in a vacant lot is, “How will this influence the community?”

James Wo, a doctoral student at the University of California, conducted research on the effect that neighborhood institutions have on crime rates in the community. He did his investigation using a large sample of neighborhoods from a variety of cities within the U.S.

Wo investigated the effect of coffee shops and alcohol outlets on crime. Through his research, he found that coffee shops reduced crime while alcohol outlets increased crime. This was due to the increased opportunity for crime produced by bars and liquor stores.

With internet and technology, face-to-face meetings lessen when people can simply text, call, or use social media to check up on their friends. This reduces the chance for positive social interaction, which also increases the chance for more crime. Wo states that he wants to “enhance cohesion and social ties amongst residents” through more social events to bring the community together.

Think of it like this: the more you get to know someone, the more you understand them and the less you want to hurt them.

So what should you do to help your community? Increase the amount of positive influence in your neighborhood!

If you’re ever in a position that allows you to make a positive change, then go for it. Everyone has the ability to make a difference. Make your neighborhood a better place not just for you, but for your neighbors too.

No one wants to be living in an area full of danger. To make communities safer, you have to start with the foundation.

To read more about Wo’s research, click the link below.

Neighborhood institutions like coffee shops and bars can have a significant positive or negative impact on local crime rates.