Neighborhood Social Network Offers Real-Time Police Alerts

The website will strengthen the Greensboro, N.C., Police Department's partnership with communities by keeping them updated about neighborhood crimes.

by Sarah Newell Williamson, News & Record, Greensboro, N.C. / September 22, 2015
(TNS) -- Greensboro Police Department announced a partnership on Monday with a website that creates social networks for neighborhoods.

Nextdoor.com is a free, private, network that requires people to provide their street addresses before they can sign up for their community’s neighborhood group. Members can recommend a handyman to neighbors or alert the group to a crime, said Joseph Porcelli, senior city strategist for Nextdoor.com.

The network verifies that users actually live where they say they do, through references and other digital resources, Porcelli said.

Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott said the website is another tool that will strengthen the department's partnership with communities.

“I’ve said it before, we cannot combat crime by ourselves,” Scott said. “We’re trying to create a geographic connection with the people in our community.”

Scott said the partnership will enable the agency to more easily communicate information.

“Sending emails has become an extremely valuable tool for us,” he said.

With Nextdoor.com, the police department can inform communities if there has been a crime trend in an area, such as vehicle break-ins, or if there’s a community event happening, Scott said. That’s something that’s already done with small pockets in the community. With Nextdoor.com, Scott said the police department can do it on a much larger scale.

About 100 Greensboro neighborhoods already are a part of Nextdoor.com. Scott was unable to say how much of the city that is, however, because the website classifies neighborhoods differently than the city.

Joe Saldarini, who presides over the Cardinal neighborhood group, organized it about two years ago. Saldarini said that since then, about 500 members have joined. The group primarily uses it to alert the neighborhood about community events. Information is sent out via email each day, if users want it that often, he said.

“In our neighborhood, the homeowner dues is voluntary, so it costs $400 to send out a mailing to 550 homes,” Saldarini said. “But we post information about community yard sales or if a car is driving slow through the neighborhood.”

Howard Taylor, 78, lives in Greensboro and attended the meeting to learn more about the website. He was cautious about what Nextdoor.com would do with users’ information.

Porcelli said information is not shared with other groups or businesses and that what people post remains within the community group.

The company's privacy regulations limit what even the police department can see.

"We are only allowed to see what the community invites us to see because of the privacy restrictions," Scott said.

©2015 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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