There is this really great app and website called Nextdoor (www.nextdoor.com).
It brings members of a neighborhood together by operating as a nexus point for their intra-‘hood communication, if you will.
The Nextdoor app is far more effective than Facebook Groups because its structure is more closely aligned to the function of a typical neighborhood.
For example, a primary function of any neighborhood is to remain or become safe for its inhabitants.
One way that is accomplished is by being more alert to what’s going on.
Nextdoor enhances this basic function by providing a way to raise awareness very quickly that something is happening in the area.
If one sees a suspicious character, it’s simply a few linese of text into the app (or website), mark it as an urgent alert and every other member gets a text message to their phone.
I’ve been playing around with it a lot lately, though, and feel they could do even more to make it easier to post such alerts.
I envision and improvement to be a sort of marriage of function between what Nextdoor does and what the popular crowdsourcing GPS app Waze can allow you to do.
With Waze, when you’re driving along and see a speedtrap, your phone already knows where you are. So that part of the alert or incident is already known.
From there you’re two taps/clicks away from saying what it is you’re recording (in this case, a speed trap–see image below).
Back to our neighborhood issues, Nextdoor could benefit from this same sort of user interface enhancement.
Today I was riding my bike to my office a few blocks away from my house (I know, horrible commute).
Still in my neighborhood, I spotted a pretty suspicious looking fellow walking down one of the main residential roads. I know for a fact he doesn’t live in our subdivision. But he was just walking somewhere and I didn’t see enough to bother the cops with it at that point.
The question is, where is he going? Just passing through or is he just practiced at looking more harmless than the other ganster types and really on his way to sneak into someone’s back door?
This is a perfect use case for Nextdoor.
Only thing is, I’m I’m going somewhere, too–and I’m riding my bike.
So now I have to stop, get off my bike and text/dictate an update to Nextdoor?
Instead, why not make it so that all I have to do is open the app and instantly touch an icon that represents the location of a “Suspicious character”?
A follow-up option could offer me to input the person’s general direction or that they are stationary, which would help neighborhood eyeballs estimate which way to point.
Others in the area get an update (which could now be very specifically alerted based on their home’s location) and I’m on my way.
I wouldn’t even need to get off my bike.
Often you just want more of the aforementioned eyeballs on the scene–to let people know maybe they should pause from their favorite program or website and take a peek out the window.
Waze does this sort of data collection extremely well. No doubt that helped a lot in making the app easy to use which, in turn, increased the demand and value of the application (rumored to have sold to Google for $1.1 billion recently).
It goes along with the old adage “if you want people to do something, make it easy for them…”
Nextdoor is well on their way to making it easier for neighbors to help neighbors but, in my opinion, they could make Urgent Alerts much easier.