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Nextdoor Releases App Designed for Public Agencies

Nextdoor says its new app makes its existing tools for public agencies accessible from mobile phones, and adds the ability to send geo-targeted alerts or communicate with the public from the field.

Nextdoor phone app
Nextdoor, the popular social media platform focused on local communities, is launching a free mobile app specifically for public agencies to communicate with local residents.

The recently announced Nextdoor for Public Agencies app includes a set of features specifically aimed at cities, counties, police and fire departments, different from those in the app it launched in 2013 for the general public. Unique features include geo-targeted messaging to reach Nextdoor users in specific neighborhoods and emergency alerts for things like severe weather or missing people.

Nextdoor itself is not a new communication tool for public agencies. Head of Product Tatyana Mamut said in an email that public agency users have been able to communicate with Nextdoor members for years by logging in to the Nextdoor website, but the new app, which she said was one of the most requested products by public agencies, lets them use the same tools on the go.

“With the new Nextdoor for Public Agencies app, public partners can engage with their residents from anywhere at any time and broadcast information across their entire jurisdiction, and connect with neighbors with the click of a button — even when they are away from their desk, after hours, or in the field,” she wrote.

Mamut said the company launched as a website in October 2011, and today serves 260,000 neighborhoods across all 50 states plus Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Australia, Denmark and Sweden. 

Katie Nelson, a spokeswoman for the Mountain View, Calif., Police Department, wrote in an email that her department staff have been using Nextdoor for years, because it lets them hyper-localize outreach to specific neighborhoods.

“Unlike platforms like Facebook or Twitter, we know who our followers are because they live in our neighborhoods. This gives us the chance to better understand the pulse of our community, and it gives us a greater opportunity to translate digital engagement into real-life experiences,” she wrote. “(Nextdoor for Public Agencies) has been a fantastic way to connect on the fly. I don’t have to log into our account on a web browser anymore — this is straight-up plug and play.”

Nelson said her department has used Nextdoor for everything from crime tips to public notifications for events to public polls on what kinds of news people want. The new mobile app condenses important features onto a more accessible platform.

“I cannot overstress the value this app plays in my daily efforts to engage with the community,” she wrote. “Rather than having to go to a desktop to sign in and review content, messages, et cetera, I have that luxury at my fingertips, allowing my agency to remain vigilant in messaging and communication with residents and ultimately forming and fostering more positive relationships with our community because we have the ability to be responsive.”

Nextdoor’s news release also included an endorsement from Chief Charles Husted of the Sedona, Ariz., Police Department, who called it the most effective tool for reaching residents with real-time safety information.

“With the app, we are now able to post critical emergency alerts from the field, which is crucial in our line of work,” Husted said in a statement. “Just recently, a member of the community spotted and called 911 about a suspect while we were actively searching.”

Mamut said agencies can’t see into neighborhood conversations, but resident users can forward certain posts to local officials, send private messages or comment on a public agency’s post.

Andrew Westrope is managing editor of the Center for Digital Education. Before that, he was a staff writer for Government Technology, and previously was a reporter and editor at community newspapers. He has a bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and lives in Northern California.
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