City launches social network to unite neighbors

DOWNEY - How much do you know about your neighbors?If you're an average American, probably not much. But this year, Downey city officials are hoping to help change that statistic. In an attempt to help foster interaction and neighbor-to-neighbor discussion about local events, crime activity, and disaster preparedness, the city launched a free, private social network last week designed to make Downey residents feel more comfortable sharing information with their neighbors. After getting an exclusive look at the service earlier this year, city officials agreed to launch the online, social network called Nextdoor, which allows residents to create private websites for their neighborhoods where they can interact with those living in their community. Unlike popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, Nextdoor is specifically aimed at encouraging residents, especially local neighborhood watch groups, to stay connected while sharing valuable information. "We believe that a proactive and more engaged city creates stronger communities," said Mayor Roger Brossmer in a recent statement. "Nextdoor is a valuable tool that will keep neighbors connected, as well as allow them to receive important city-wide information." Currently, the Downey Police Department is reaching out to the city's 104 neighborhood watch groups hoping members of each can help spearhead the new social network, which is now available to all Downey residents. While the topics of discussion on Nextdoor may pertain to neighborhood security, residents may also use the site to search for a local babysitter, organize a garage sale, or notify neighbors of a lost pet. In order to launch the site, city officials provided the social network with a map of the city outlining every neighborhood. Using Nextdoor, the city is now able to post information that will be seen by every resident who has created an account on the website. Every week, the city will receive updates from Nextdoor detailing which neighborhoods are actively using the network. Information shared on Nextdoor is password-protected and cannot be accessed by those outside the neighborhood or found on any search engines, according to city officials.

********** Published: March 01, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 46