Sarah Leary didn’t set out to be a bridge between local government and citizens. But that was a fortunate development when she co-founded the popular neighborhood social media platform Nextdoor in 2010. Today, Leary is connecting the company’s 50,000-plus neighborhoods with public agencies nationwide. The value proposition is pioneering in that it links officials to specific geographies and gives residents direct contact with government — most notably for emergency services.
In an interview last year, Leary talked about creating Nextdoor for Public Agencies — an initiative that offers easy signups and personalized dashboards for government departments.
“We invested in putting up a sizable development team internally, and it was a several step process that culminated in September,” she said.
Following the release, the number of public agencies that signed on grew from 100 at the start of 2014, to 600 by the year’s end. Leary added that government users are forecast to triple sometime this year.
“Most Americans live outside major cities, and so we wanted to make sure that we were taking this powerful platform that allowed residents to connect with police and fire departments and making that available to any number of the 14,000-plus municipalities in this country,” she said.
More new features are ahead in 2015, and while Leary couldn’t elaborate, she said there are plans to create an experience that tailors the platform to all levels and types of government agencies.
Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.