Neighborly app helps keep communities connected


A new application called Nextdoor is available for neighbors to stay connected.

The free app provides access to what’s happening on your street anytime, from anywhere.

It was launched nationwide in October 2011.

The app helps neighbors network and get to know one other.

TJ Ticano lives in the southern part of Las Vegas and uses Nextdoor even though he said he was not a techie kind of person.

“I moved around a lot as a kid, probably a dozen times, so I never had a sense of community,” he said. “What drew me to this is, everybody’s on Facebook and things like that, so maybe they’d be more inclined to reach out to one another this way. So I kind of pushed this out to our neighbors. I knew my immediate neighbors, but our community is 240 homes. I’d like to know at least half those people.”

Almost immediately, Nextdoor proved helpful. Ticano and his girlfriend were leaving home when they noticed a man with a crowbar lingering around a neighbor’s house. They called the police and notified neighbors via the app. Ticano later learned that the man was stalking his former girlfriend, who had a protective order against him.

Another time it came in handy was when teens broke into a vacant home nearby. But mostly, Ticano and his neighbors have used Nextdoor to share landscaping ideas, offer safety tips and organize a block party.

When someone signs up, Nextdoor headquarters can send a postcard to that person’s neighbors, asking them to download the app to be a part of the neighborhood.

“Once we had a few neighbors on board, they became proactive because they wanted more of their neighbors (to join), and they put clippings on the mailboxes and word of mouth,” Ticano said.

He laughed about it being a low-tech way to advance a high-tech solution.

Block parties and other social interactions are just what app co-founder and CEO Nirav Tolia said he likes to hear about.

“The reason we’ve lost touch with our neighbors over the last 20 or 30 years is because there’s been a massive increase in the number of dual working households, and as a result, no one is home during the day to meet their neighbors,” he said. “No one’s sitting on the front porch. No one is walking the dog. They’re in the office.”

Fifty-nine Las Vegas neighborhoods and more than 15,000 neighborhoods across the country are on board with the app.

“Once you’re connected with your neighbors,” said Tolia, “you can make it what you want — get to know neighbors, get a dentist recommendation, find a baby sitter, advertise a garage sale, ask if anyone’s seen your lost pet. The days of posting fliers on telephone poles” are over.

Research from Harris data shows that 92 percent of Americans don’t have most of their neighbors’ cellphone numbers.

“We see how smartphone use is exploding and how mainstream America really prefers to use the Internet from their phone,” Tolia said. “As a service that has critical information that can be very, very important, and a real-time importance, it was an absolutely critical thing for us to develop a dedicated mobile app.”Only 29 percent of Americans know some of their neighbors, and 28 percent know none of their neighbors by name, according to a June 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center. Neighbors who engage in an online conversation are 75 percent more likely to meet in person, according to Pew Research.

That’s one goal of Nextdoor — to bring back a sense of community, Tolia said.

“We don’t believe you should use Nextdoor as a substitute or the primary way to speak with your neighbors,” Tolia said. “We believe Nextdoor is a very efficient way to get the word out when you want to reach a lot of neighbors at the same time.”

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

 

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