Nextdoor and a competing site called i-Neighbors allow residents to set up social networks linked not by friendships or interests but geography, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In a society in which fewer people really know their neighbors, the sites help people connect and can be a valuable tool to combat crime. In some places, police are actively working to get neighborhoods online to help share information and stifle criminal activity. On both Nextdoor and i-Neighbors, residents create a site for their neighborhood, then recruit others to join. Both are free, though i-Neighbors has launched a service for a monthly fee that local leaders can use to broadcast text alerts to cellphones and send prerecorded voice messages in emergencies.
Members can post a photo of themselves and offer as much, or as little, information about themselves and their families as they want. Some people put up photographs of their front doors rather than photos of themselves. In some places, they are getting a nudge from police interested in the crime-fighting possibilities of the sites. In November, the Dallas Police Department announced it was partnering with Nextdoor to post crime alerts and information about crime trends that could be targeted citywide or to specific neighborhoods. About 100 Dallas police officers were trained to use the website. The company’s goal is to get 90 percent of Dallas neighborhoods to have a Nextdoor page within a year.