The people I talk to most on Facebook live far away from my CT town. I spend a great deal of time chatting with friends from Colorado, California and the Carolinas. On LinkedIn (News - Alert), I network with business contacts that reside all over the United States and in several other countries. But it occurred to me that I know more about my buddy in Charleston, SC than I do about the folks who live across the street from me. Well, a new social network, Nextdoor.com, is looking to change that.
According to an ABC News interview, the site’s founder, Nirav Tolia, created Nextdoor.com because there wasn’t a social networking site that allowed people to connect with those who were physically close. These connections with people in your neighborhood serve a different purpose than the friendships we may cultivate on other sites. “It's not 'Wish me happy birthday' or 'Look at my vacation pictures.' It's, 'I lost my dog,' 'My roof is leaking,' 'I need to borrow some skis,'" Tolia said.
Nextdoor.com launched last year and there are already 8,000 US neighborhoods on the site, with more joining every day. In order to register, users must give a physical address and verify it with a credit card or by using a code off of a postcard sent through the mail.
One of the biggest benefits of the site to date is a focus on neighborhood security and safety. "We believe neighborhoods that use Nextdoor will lower crime rates," Tolia said. "Over the last six months police departments and fire departments have been contacting Nextdoor to be integrated into the service so they can work with neighbors to create safer neighborhoods." In Dallas, for example, police have mapped local police stations to the Nextdoor communities and have trained more than 300 neighbor officers.
On the other side of the security coin, though, is a concern for privacy. In this day and age, some people might be reluctant to divulge their actual addresses online. But Nextdoor has put several security measures in place in order to protect users. Users are only visible to people who live in your actual neighborhood, and you can omit your house number from your profile. The site also integrates more than 50 different sex offender databases and refuses membership to people on those lists.
It is an interesting idea for a social networking site, and one that appears to have many uses. One thing is for certain though, Mr. Rogers and his neighbors would be proud of the idea.