Government Technology

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


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
Public Safety 2019
Motorola conducted an industry survey on the latest trends in public safety communications. The results provide an outlook of what technology is in store for your agency in the next five years. Download the results to gain this valuable insight.
Improving Emergency Response with Digital Communications
Saginaw County, Mich., increases interoperability, communication and collaboration with a digital voice and data network, as well as modern computer-aided dispatch.
Reduce Talk Time in Your Support Center by 40%
As the amount of information available to citizens and employees grows each year, so do customer expectations for efficient service. Contextual Knowledge makes information easy to find, dropping resolution times and skyrocketing satisfaction.
View All

Featured Papers