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CivicPlus Makes a Deal With Nextdoor for Hyper-Local Alerts

The deal brings together a gov tech firm that focuses on local governments and an app that neighbors use to keep track of what’s going on. CivicPlus says the integration will boost civic engagement.

Aerial view of a suburban neighborhood.
One of the most visible — and at times, controversial — apps for community communication now is taking on a bigger role in citizen engagement, thanks to a deal with CivicPlus, a company that sells digital tools to local governments.

Nextdoor, where residents share info about local events, crime trends, zoning concerns, parking restrictions and many other issues, will work with the Kansas-based company to give local officials a new way to reach residents.

The deal combines the CivicPlus Mass Notification System with Nextdoor’s “hyper-local messaging,” using geo-targeting to distribute timely public safety alerts, civic updates and other data, according to a statement.

Building community trust stands as one of the big potential benefits of this collaboration, according to Cari Tate, solution director at CivicPlus.

“With the uncertainty of verified accounts and the potential for false information on other social networks, CivicPlus collaborated with Nextdoor to provide another channel for verified communication from local governments,” Tate told Government Technology via email.

To use this new service, a local official can create a standard post for the Nextdoor service area that includes the particular public agency. Residents can subscribe to the public agencies whose messages they want to see. Governments must have a CivicPlus Mass Notification contract to use this integration, Tate said. Agencies have their profiles verified by Nextdoor.

CivicPlus plans to add archiving to the service, which means that all Nextdoor posts from agencies “are easily retrievable in accordance with records retention laws around the nation,” Tate said.

Local officials can post with a single click, CivicPlus said in its statement, and target messages to specific neighborhoods. Officials also can set up automated messages.

“At Nextdoor, we believe that local connection builds resilience in neighborhoods before, during and after emergencies,” said Joseph Porcelli, global public agency lead at Nextdoor, in the statement. “We also believe that public agencies are essential for building strong, vibrant neighborhoods.”

Nextdoor says it has a presence in 335,000 neighborhoods in 11 countries. Nextdoor’s active weekly users hit 41.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2023, up 5 percent year over year, according to a company financial report.

The app’s reputation has taken some hits over the years from critics who say Nextdoor can twist perceptions of crime and spread paranoia, pettiness or racism from users.

Asked whether CivicPlus was concerned about Nextdoor’s sometimes negative reputation, Tate kept the focus on civic engagement.

“The value of this integration is rooted in the platform’s ability to provide town-to-resident communication, which empowers city staff to reach their residents in a direct, personal way and foster a civil space for engagement,” Tate said. “The basis of these communications will focus on community events, council actions, board agendas, road work updates, community cleanups, service announcements and public safety incidents.”
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.