Government Technology

    Digital Communities
    Industry Members

  • Click sponsor logos for whitepapers, case studies, and best practices.
  • McAfee

Austin, Travis County Fight Neighborhood Crime with Nextdoor



A row of two story houses

December 17, 2013 By Julie Chang, McClatchy News Service

About 6 a.m. one day this month, Kelly Laney's home security camera filmed three men lurking by her parked car at her home near West Lake Hills. When the camera turned on, they saw the men bolt, she said.

She immediately logged on to the social networking site Nextdoor and saw that six other neighbors had been targeted by thieves that morning.

The reach of Nextdoor -- which Laney and her Woodhaven neighborhood have used to report crime, set up block parties and share information about lost pets -- expanded Monday to the city of Austin and the Travis County sheriff's office. Officials announced they are partnering with Nextdoor to send alerts on crime, emergencies and traffic.

"We will be enhancing our outreach efforts into neighborhoods," Mayor Lee Leffingwell said during a news conference. "Public safety has always been a big priority of mine, and this tool helps those efforts by not only providing our residents with greater connectivity through our Police Department, but by also helping neighbors empower themselves to keep their communities safe."

Residents can join the Nextdoor website and download the mobile application for free by entering their home address, which the company then verifies by asking people to enter a land line, mobile phone or credit card number that is registered to the address.

Law enforcement and city officials can post general or neighborhood-specific information that appears like updates on the home feed or on a specific group page. The service is free to the city and county, which cannot see what individual neighbors are posting.

"Nextdoor will provide a communication tool to enable more residents to easily participate in the modern virtual ... neighborhood watch," Police Chief Art Acevedo said.

Acevedo said the social network will help mitigate the effects of what he considers a short-staffed police department.

Nextdoor will not replace the other platforms the city and county have used to distribute information, officials said.

Since the San Francisco-based company launched in Austin 2 1/2  years ago, 500 area neighborhoods have joined. Users create the boundaries of their neighborhoods and have posted information about items for sale and recommendations on landscapers or house repairers.

Laney, 35, who created the Woodhaven neighborhood on Nextdoor in September (it now has 80 members), compares it with Facebook and called it a better alternative to the neighborhood Yahoo group she was managing before.

"The technology is superior," she said.

(c) 2013 Austin American-Statesman, Texas


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Digital Cities & Counties Survey: Best Practices Quick Reference Guide
This Best Practices Quick Reference Guide is a compilation of examples from the 2013 Digital Cities and Counties Surveys showcasing the innovative ways local governments are using technological tools to respond to the needs of their communities. It is our hope that by calling attention to just a few examples from cities and counties of all sizes, we will encourage further collaboration and spark additional creativity in local government service delivery.
Wireless Reporting Takes Pain (& Wait) out of Voting
In Michigan and Minnesota counties, wireless voting via the AT&T network has brought speed, efficiency and accuracy to elections - another illustration of how mobility and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology help governments to bring superior services and communication to constituents.
Why Would a City Proclaim Their Data “Open by Default?”
The City of Palo Alto, California, a 2013 Center for Digital Government Digital City Survey winner, has officially proclaimed “open” to be the default setting for all city data. Are they courageous or crazy?
View All