Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced Thursday that the city has entered into a strategic partnership with Nextdoor, a social networking service which connects residents based on the neighborhoods in which they live.
A San Francisco-based, free service which already has a sizable Pittsburgh user base, Nextdoor allows residents of the same neighborhood to communicate everything from local crime and safety information to helping neighbors find good babysitters or recover missing pets. Its Pittsburgh presence started two years ago in Lawrenceville, but has since grown to include at least 66 other neighborhoods. Now, the site’s official partnership with the city will allow city government services to communicate information directly with specific neighborhoods.
“It takes all the different components of what we’re trying to do in city government to create a model of the 21st century city,” Peduto says. “It is sort of like the 21st century version of ‘won’t you be my neighbor?’”
In order to use the site, residents need only to verify their addresses through Nextdoor. Once confirmed, residents have full access to their neighborhood site. The service also has smartphone applications, allowing users to access their neighborhood pages remotely.
“The mayor’s office as well as the department of public safety, the bureau of police and the department of public works now have the ability to post information including safety updates on the Nextdoor platform,” says site co-founder Sarah Leary, adding that even though city services will be able to disseminate information to neighborhoods, these services won’t have access to neighborhood conversations or user profile information. “We’re committed to privacy and making sure that residents feel comfortable talking to each other in a trusted environment.”
Because the site requires residents to use their real names and addresses, Leary says that their real-life reputations create a sense of accountability which helps to keep the conversation civil.
Pittsburgh is the first major city in Pennsylvania to partner with Nextdoor and one of the first major cities in the northeast United States. Even before the partnership was announced, Lawrenceville was the sixth-most active neighborhood on the site’s service.
“The partnership we’re entering into today already puts us into the top 10, but now we are along with the cities of San Jose, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, and that’s the company we want to keep,” Peduto says.
Residents interested in connecting with their neighborhood’s Nextdoor site can enter their information on Nextdoor’s Pittsburgh hub page.