Next Door (https://nextdoor.com/) is a private social network for neighborhoods. The concept is to provide a comfortable and safe environment for neighborhood members to share information. To keep it safe, only members of a neighborhood are allowed to join their neighborhood group. Each member must verify their location to ensure privacy. The concept builds on the notion that there used to be more neighborhoods where people felt safe and came together to socialize and solve problems. However, in today’s suburbs, a property owner may not even know neighbors living two houses away. There is no sense of community in that reality, which often results in government getting involved and having to row rather than steer. The social network is used for a variety of things including: getting the word out about a break in, seeing if there is a local repairperson, sharing equipment and tools, planning neighborhood enhancements and amenities, coordinating neighborhood events, or even just saying hello to new neighbors.
Local governments are not and should not be integrally involved in the private social network. However, local governments are needed to help promote the concept. They can partner with Next Door by providing information about their local neighborhoods, which may or may not be that obvious. While the social network is set up for the neighbors, local governments are now also partnering with Next Door to disseminate information and engage neighborhoods through the network. For example, local governments can share information about road work projects, utility breaks, tree trimming activities, water boil advisories, etc. directly to the residents being affected. Below are several links to communities in California and Oregon who are partnering with Next Door and using this social media platform to engage their citizens and promote neighborhood connections.