Philly neighborhoods get their own social networks
In an effort to improve city-to-resident and neighbor-to-neighbor communications through Philadelphia, city officials announced a new partnership with for-profit social network Nextdoor as a resource to redefine the relationship between city government and the citizens.
“We are the first administration to come to life in the digital age. We are focus in creating a culture of continuous improvement within city government utilizing technology and innovation,” said Richard Negrin, managing director of Philadelphia. “Redefining the relationship and interconnectivity with our citizens.To give voice to the voiceless and to serve those who have been underserved.”
Negrin highlighted that Nextdoor is a free and private social network for neighborhoods that gives residents an easy way to connect “about the things that matter most in their communities.”
The neighborhoods create and self-manage a private network that is accessible only to the residents of that neighborhood. “All residents must ratify that they live within the specific neighborhood that they are joining. This will give more avenues to more easily connect with city departments, it enhances the sense of community and empowers citizens to partner with the city to create safer stronger and more resilient neighborhoods,” he said.
Local government officials will be able to post news, services, programs, events, as well as emergency and safety notifications. They will not be able to access residents’ websites, contact information, or content.
The information shared on Nextdoor is password protected and cannot be accessed by Google or other search engines.
For now the the social network is only offered in English, which would leave non-English speaking communities outside the network.
“We are looking at different ways to make the application available in different languages and hopefully allow communities with mixed languages to communicate with each other. That is an area that we’ll be looking at down the road,” said Sarah Leary, co-founder of the San Francisco-based Nextdoor.
Another question is the barrier of digital divide between communities. “We are talking about it internally, to train and talk to our folks at Philly Rising. So they can go into the communities and talk to families to get them online through key spots, like an online center where people can have internet access and have the ability to get on Nextdoor,”, Negrin said.
Approximately 17,000 Philadelphia residents are already using Nextdoor in neighborhoods across the city. “Residents are connecting to their neighbors to get recommendations for everyday things like local plumbers, to more serious things like discussing crime and community issues. Or to simply help them connect to each other,” Negrin said.
Philadelphia residents interested in joining their neighborhood’s Nextdoor website can visit Nextdoor/philadelphia and enter their home address. If you have questions or need further information visit help.nextdoor.com