Innovative websites and apps to help connect and serve both you and your neighborhood
Currently the most talked-about free community organizing site, Nextdoor lets you set up a private social network for neighbors to communicate online – basically a simpler, more specialized version of Facebook. Members must use real, verified names and addresses to join, and any personal information you chose to include is kept from search engines. The most exciting feature is how it maps your addresses, so people can associate locations with your posts, and (if you opt for it) know where everyone lives. It also includes a handy smartphone app allowing you to post things and see notifications from anywhere.
Another free and private service similar to Nextdoor, Home Elephant has less features but the simplicity is what makes it great. It’s based on a set of “alerts” you can push out to other neighbors on the network to quickly report news, lost and found notices, incidents of crime, and more. It’s like an online neighborhood-watchplus-bulletin-board for small communities. It also has a nice smartphone app, and it features map views so alerts can be associated with an actual location.
Neighborland is another free networking service with an integrated phone app, but its focus is helping residents take action on important issues – from community projects to political concerns. It’s easy for people to create a project and then rally support, discussion, and action. It even shows you maps of the various projects in your area. But they take it a step further by offering “toolkits” for street level engagement, including some very cool materials like stickers, custom whiteboards, and signage to facilitate face-to-face discussions and generate ideas.