How New York City is getting free apps for its residents

Tue, 2013-06-18 14:18 -- Jesse Berst

Cities want residents to have a library of great applications. Yet no city can afford to hire the dozens or hundreds of programmers it would take. Increasingly, those cities are finding ways to motivate others to build applications. New York is using at least two strategies. First, it has created an Open Data portal to give programmers access to city statistics. Better yet, it has created a BigApps competition that will award money and prizes. In an article discussing city contests and competitions, UBM's Future Cities Managing Editor cites three New York favorites: a day care finder, a restaurant health safety finder and a dating violence help app.

A second strategy is to partner with companies that are building city-focused applications. New York has an important partnership with Microsoft, for instance, to build and then market a crime-fighting dashboard for police departments. (Microsoft is a Lead Partner of the Smart Cities Council.) More recently, it has started working with Nextdoor to make it easier for neighbors to stay in touch with each other, as you will read in the release below. -- Jesse Berst, Smart Cities Council Chairman


Nextdoor and Mayor Bloomberg Announce New Partnership Between New York City and the Private Social Network for Neighborhoods

Partnership Will Enable City Government to Communicate with New Yorkers Via Private, Secure Neighborhood Websites

Nextdoor app for NYCSAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nextdoor (www.nextdoor.com), the private social network for neighborhoods, along with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, announced today a partnership with New York City that is designed to help neighbors stay connected about important city and safety updates through secure neighborhood websites and a mobile application.

Residents can use their Nextdoor websites to get to know their neighbors, ask questions, and exchange local advice and recommendations. For example, neighbors in New York City use Nextdoor to share information about neighborhood safety issues, local events, local businesses, lost pets, and much more. Nextdoor has already created more than 1,800 neighborhood websites across all five boroughs to support the residents of New York City. The Mayor and Nextdoor Co-Founder and CEO, Nirav Tolia, made the announcement when the Mayor visited Nextdoor's headquarters in San Francisco on Friday, June 14, 2013.

With today’s initial rollout, New York City residents will receive pertinent information from the City, via its Nextdoor NYCgov website. NYCgov currently uses social media platforms like Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook to post news, services, programs, free events, and emergency notifications for New Yorkers. By using Nextdoor, the City will be able to target those postings to specific neighborhoods. As part of the partnership, members of the Nextdoor team will work with the City’s Chief Digital Officer, Rachel Haot, and local field team in New York City to conduct local outreach and training.

“Partnering with Nextdoor is another step forward in our adoption of strategic technology that better serves New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Nextdoor gives New York neighbors an easy way to connect and communicate with those who live around them. It also provides the City with a direct line of communication to residents about important and often critical updates.”

“This partnership is a great example of Mayor Bloomberg’s drive to bring innovative technology solutions to New Yorkers,” said Tolia. “We are honored to work with New York City and its residents to provide a platform that leverages the strong neighborhood pride that many New Yorkers share to strengthen neighborhoods across the city.”

Nextdoor is free for residents and the City. More than 14,130 neighborhoods and more than 120 city governments, including three of the ten largest cities in the U.S. (San Diego, Dallas, San Jose), have adopted Nextdoor.

Nextdoor is specifically designed to make neighbors feel comfortable sharing information with one another in order to build stronger communities. All members must verify that they actually live within the neighborhood. Information shared on Nextdoor is password-protected and cannot be accessed by those outside the neighborhood or found on Google or other search engines. In addition, Nextdoor never shares personal information with any third parties. Unlike an email listserv or other online groups, neighbor posts are organized and archived for future reference.

“Online engagement is a critical element of Mayor Bloomberg’s Digital Roadmap for New York City. By partnering with Nextdoor, we have an opportunity to use technology that helps the City disseminate vital information to residents, at no cost to either party,” said Rachel Haot, Chief Digital Officer for the City of New York. “We look forward to leveraging the platform, and are excited that Nextdoor will hire a local team to support the partnership.”

Neighborhoods establish and self-manage their own Nextdoor websites. Information shared on Nextdoor is only visible to verified members. The City will be able to post important information to Nextdoor sites within the City, but the City will not be able to access the residents’ websites, contact information, or content. New York City residents who are interested in joining their neighborhood’s Nextdoor website can visit nextdoor.com/nyc and enter their address. If you have questions or need help with your Nextdoor website, you can visit help.nextdoor.com. If you are interested in bringing Nextdoor to your city, visit nextdoor.com/city.

About Nextdoor.com, Inc.

Nextdoor is the private social network for the neighborhood. Using Nextdoor's free platform, neighbors create private neighborhood websites to communicate, organize virtual neighborhood watch, and much more.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., Nextdoor is a privately held company with the backing of prominent investors, including Benchmark, Greylock Partners, Shasta Ventures, and Bezos Expeditions. Nextdoor has been named one of Time Magazine’s 50 Best Websites of 2013 and one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Brilliant Companies. The company was recently chosen by the San Francisco Business Times as one of its 2013 Tech & Innovation award winners for Best Startup. More than 14,000 neighborhoods across the country are using Nextdoor to build happier, safer places to call home.