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Thursday, May 15, 2014

City partners with Nextdoor neighborhood social network

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 2:51 PM

When the residents of Fineview in the North Side saw an increase in the number of daytime burglaries in their neighborhood, they took to Nextdoor, a neighborhood social networking site, to put a stop to them. The tool proved invaluable. Nextdoor served as a way for residents to share information and with the help of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, the burglar was caught.

"The residents of Fineview said no more," said North Side Commander RaShall Brackney. "Criminals should no longer count on the citizens of Pittsburgh to fight crime in their old ways."

Nextdoor's usefulness stretches beyond public safety. Pittsburghers have been using the social network for the past two years to find reliable babysitters, a lost pet, and more. And today city government announced they would be partnering with the site to deliver neighborhood specific information to its residents.

"Instead of trying to create something new, they're trying to build on something that's already working for neighborhoods," said Lauren Byrne who leads the Lawrenceville Nextdoor group.

According to Nextdoor Co-founder Sarah Leary, the Lawrenceville group is among the top in the country. As of now approximately 1500 residents are members.

"We all know about the power of neighbors actually knowing each other and looking out for each other," Leary said.

In order to join a group in your neighborhood, individuals have to verify their home address. This process not only ensures the groups remain private for residents only but it also makes communication between neighborhors more accountable.

"What we see is a high degree of civility," Leary said. "It's your real name and these people are going to see you when you walk out your door."

The city says Nextdoor will be used by the departments of public works and public safety and they will be looking for other ways to use it.

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