Nextdoor, a private social network for neighborhoods that facilitates targeted communication to real members within communities. Almost 84,000 neighborhoods nationwide are signed up with the social network. Nextdoor, available online and in app form, raised over $200 million from investors between its founding in 2010 and 2015.
While most exchanges on Nextdoor do not involve crimes or safety (only 20% per a Q1 2015 Nextdoor report) the social network has experienced a significant upswing in police agency use for citizen engagement. More than 1,400 public agencies across the country collaborate with the social network as of the end of 2015. Updates can be posted to a police department’s entire service area, specific service areas (such as police precincts), or to individual neighborhoods. For instance as of December 2015 the Cambridge Police Department is using Nextdoor to establish two-way communication with Cambridge residents. More than 4,000 Cambridge Massachusetts residents were already using Nextdoor across 28 neighborhood groups to request a babysitters, ask for help finding lost animals, and report suspicious activities to one another.
Below are some additional examples of how law enforcement, emergency management, and fire/EMS agencies across the country have used Nextdoor to communicate with their residents.
Community Policing/Engagement The Durham County, NC Sheriff’s Office sends a customized post to every new Nextdoor neighborhood in the county to welcome them to Nextdoor and provide information on how they can communicate with the Sheriff’s Office. And in Charlotte, NC Police Departments tasked police officers with specific goals to increase their residents’ adoption of Nextdoor.
Crime Prevention With participation in neighborhood watch programs declining, the Sacramento Police Department embraced Nextdoor as a tool to engage concerned citizens. In just one year, they grew their Nextdoor membership from 10,000 to over 20,000 residents, which was accompanied by a 7.7% reduction in crime and a 30% decrease in shootings.
Emergency Preparedness A San Diego, CA Police Department sergeant received hundreds of Thanks and Replies from Nextdoor members when he offered to attend neighborhood meetings. During fire season, San Diego Fire issued urgent alerts to notify affected residents about wildfire activity and evacuation instructions. They were able to communicate with residents in real-time on Nextdoor.
Impact question: How and why does the immediate use value at Nextdoor beyond public safety affect the use of the platform for observe and reports by citizens and citizen responses to agency alerts? How and why does building social cohesion via Nextdoor affect citizen reports and responses? (...and overcome social loafing and/or fear).