To create a safe and vibrant community, its been said it takes a village. Or, you might say it takes a neighborhood – perhaps one assisted by 21st century technology. Maybe it takes something like Nextdoor, a free and private social network designed to serve specific neighborhoods.
Unlike Facebook, which consists of “friends” from near and far, Nextdoor is focused on the people in your backyard. In the company’s own words, Nextdoor was designed to “use the power of technology to bring back a sense of community to the neighborhood”, and to “enable members to easily connect and communicate with each other.”
The medium might be relatively new, but the idea is not. Nextdoor is basically the online sweet spot where the community bulletin board meets the neighborhood watch program. It’s a virtual place where you can find a close-by babysitter, plan a neighborhood block party, and sell and exchange things. It’s also a place to stay abreast of suspicious activities in the neighborhood.
So how does Nextdoor work? A neighborhood (or person representing a neighborhood) creates a private Nextdoor website accessible only to that neighborhood’s residents. Neighbors must verify their addresses to join. Once a member, they can invite others to join. There’s also a feature that taps into “nearby neighborhoods” – the idea being that it’s helpful to know what’s happening in areas adjacent to your own. (For example, why did five fire engines just barrel down a nearby street? Or, did the new pizza place open yet, and if so, is it any good?)
And although here at Landport we’re the first to admit we don’t need another password or any more emails, from a community engagement standpoint, we do find Nextdoor intriguing. Since Landport is a company dedicated to creating secure scenarios for package delivery, we’re concerned with home safety, and very much in favor of creating safer neighborhoods. So we signed up.
After being logged in for only a few minutes, we immediately experienced that Nextdoor does indeed do a good job of keeping you posted on what’s happening in the ‘hood. In fact, almost too good of a job – a few minutes after joining, the email alerts started rolling in. If and when you do join, we suggest you set your email preferences right away, so that you only receive information you find relevant.
In a world overloaded with all kinds of online services, there’s another reason we found Nextdoor compelling. Several statistics on the site underscore how modern life doesn’t always encourage community, but that people actually do feel better when they’re acquainted with their neighbors and friends.
For example: 67% of homeowners feel safer in their home/neighborhood because they know their neighbors (August 6, 2012 Harris Interactive Survey)
And our favorite: 93% of Americans say it is important for neighbors to look out for one another (July 13, 2011 Harris Interactive Survey)
If you can handle another password, that just might be reason enough to join.
For more information about Nextdoor, check out nextdoor.com. There’s also a downloadable PDF available at the site that goes into greater detail about the company and their plans for the future.