Sunday, March 9, 2014

Get to know the neighborhood? There's an app for that.

I've had a long fascination with the return of the neighborhood, and that is probably why I am especially fascinated by Nextdoor, an app that bills itself as sort of a "Facebook for neighbors."  

Here is how it works:  you go to the app (or website), choose the neighborhood where you live, join that neighborhood's group, and when people post the post goes only to those within that neighborhood, not to all of your "friends" scattered around the world.  

I was skeptical at first, but I have to admit, I've come to really love it.  In Boise, where I live, the police and fire departments now use Nextdoor to send out alerts on crime and hazards, but mostly the site is filled with questions you typically want to ask neighbors about:  do you know a good roofer, who cleans gutters around here, someone beat up my kid at the park and did you see it, anyone have a good babysitter recommendation, and so on.  

Sometimes the posts border on the mundane, but it strikes me what a tremendous platform it is for community involvement and action.  Within the small urban neighborhood where we live over 200 people are on the site; I couldn't imagine there are more than a thousand homes in the defined neighborhood area.  A lot of people post often, but not too often, and everything has to do with something in the neighborhood.

With just a few months of experience, I have come to believe apps like Nextdoor will be a part of the way that people start to use technology to build neighborhood comraderie.  I should also add that the neighborhood where we live is also an extremely friendly area; my wife and I joke that some people are "aggressively friendly." The value of an app like Nextdoor is that it doesn't replace the traditional neighborhood structure but overlays on top of that traditional structure adding richness to it.

Some interesting facts from Nextdoor's press packet:

For dark backgrounds


Stephen R. Miller

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