A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Keven Moore: Social media site Nextdoor helps local police departments connect with neighborhoods


A little over a month ago, the Lexington Police Department announced that it was partnering with the social media networking website Nextdoor, with the hopes of improving communications between the department and Lexington neighborhoods.

The police department said they will be using the website to help share neighborhood-specific information, including safety tips, crime alerts and notifications about when officers will attend local neighborhood associations meetings.

The Lexington Police Department joins the ranks of many other cities and municipalities nationwide that have discovered the usefulness of this unique social media website, which helps bridge the communication gap within their communities.

In Louisville, in addition to sharing relevant safety and crime information, the police department has used the website to invite people in the community to a “Coffee With A Cop” event in October at a local Dairy Queen.

Next door

The Cincinnati Police Department has used the website to invite its communities out to special events such as a city sponsored softball game and celebration called “Pitching For Peace” as well as other events such as dodge-ball, bubble-ball and double Dutch event at a local recreation center for their youth.

Nextdoor partners with public agencies all across the country, providing them with a custom interface that allows them to share important updates and request information/action from residents. With “Nextdoor for Public Agencies,” your local public safety or administrative agency has the ability to target messages to specific neighborhoods.

Public Agencies registered on Nextdoor can actively help residents prepare for an emergencies. It is designed to engage in two-way communication with residents to announce information, solicit public opinion, and take action on issues of interest to the community.

It can also provide advice to residents to help keep their families and property safe, and allow residents to report suspicious activity.

With neighborhoods actively policing their own streets these days, public agencies are able to join the conversation and support residents with information and resources.

Nearly two years ago, I stumbled across this social media site and wrote an article about its usefulness. As a safety and risk management professional I quickly saw the advantages that it offered to help keep my family and own neighborhood safe, so I registered the Palomar Hills neighborhood with the website.

By being the first in my neighborhood to join, I was labeled as the “founding member,” which had a patriotic ring to it. It just meant that I was the official “Palomar Hills Greeter.” I took the time to invite each and every household within my neighborhood to participate by sending them each a postcard offered for free Nextdoor access, but it still took several months for it to catch on.

Fast forward some 23 months later and we now have exactly 450 neighbors registered users in a neighborhood population of 710 people, which equates to a 63 percent participation rate. It is actively being used to help bring our neighborhood together and safe. Our neighborhood association has used it for many occasions and today many of my neighbors are engaged, which has brought our neighborhood together in a positive way.

Next door featured

It has been used to help organize an opposition effort to help stop a development of a parcel of land that borders our neighborhood, inform us of suspicious vehicles cruising the neighborhood, sell furniture, notify us of pending garage sales, find and refer trusted contractors and locate lost pets, dog-walkers and babysitters.

It also has helps educate us several criminal activities that have occurred in the neighborhood and others nearby from several acts of vandalism, theft, burglary, home invasion and even one incident where an intruder had exchanged gunshots with a local homeowner less than a mile from my home.

All of which were never reported in the local newspaper or local TV news stations.

Such events have really opened my eyes regarding the frequency of criminal activity that occurs within a one mile radius of my home in what is described as a fairly safe section of town. It has since prompted me to install motion activated night vision cameras on the exterior of my home after having my vehicle broken into one evening.

Nextdoor is intended to help turn our neighborhood into virtual communities and it has allowed me to keep my finger on the plus of my local community. As a private social network, it is designed to bring back that trusted environment for neighbor-to-neighbor communication while building stronger and safer neighborhoods.
 
Some neighborhoods have gone so far as to use the site to coordinate check-ins for elderly neighbors, lend equipment or set up a food chain for a needy family. I even read where one neighbor offered his freezer space, powered by a generator, during a power outage.

I’m sure there will be those who don’t find the website appealing and that’s okay, as I have noticed several neighbors that have registered and then unregistered within my neighborhood. It’s not for everybody, but for me, it’s exactly what I need without having to go politicking up and down the street to keep up with the neighborhood activities.

If something happens in my neighborhood while I’m sleeping, I am quickly informed by another concerned neighbor who I may or may not have ever met, but to whom I am very grateful of his desire to keep me informed.

It’s been said that 67 percent of homeowners feel safer if they know their neighbors, and 35 percent of those who know their neighbors reported that they have shared information with them about crime and safety.

Since first writing about this social media website, Nextdoor has more than doubled in size, growing into one of the largest social networks in the U.S. with over ten million registered users spread across over 119,000 registered neighborhoods all across the country. And now it is even being offered on mobile devises and cellphones.

With the Christmas season now over, I suspect it was instrumental in assisting neighbors help locate and deter those Christmas scrooges that drive through our neighborhoods stealing packages from our from porches — and now I have a means to engage and inform my local police department as well.

Be Safe My Friends.

Keven-Moore_10221

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com.


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One Comment

  1. Donna says:

    I am home all day, I try to protect our area on Cave Hill . Especially if there is an unusal amount of traffic, which we don’t have as a rule. I know my other neighbors do the same. I feel this is a wonderful way to protect our homes ,cars and children.

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