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Nextdoor before a hurricane – hyper-local, hyper-useful

"Finishing up shutter installation on sliders. Need input on how to get stubborn screws in concrete loose."  It’s October 5, 2016 and 125 mile per hour winds may be barreling into Florida. The streets of a neighborhood are connected and reveal what residents are doing, what they need.  The residents yesterday and today are mostly online (these are their quotes) and in need – or their neighbors are online and asking for help on their behalf. They have been invited in by their neighbors, the rental agency, homeowner association office and realtors.  That tool is Nextdoor, a last resort invention by a handful of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs right before before they returned money to investors.

When tech is hyper-local and people are desperate.  "Please call me – my husband has a bad back."  News coverage of a hurricane splatters across the Internet, TV and radio broadcasts -- interrupting with warnings. As the day wore on yesterday, the posts in this localized Nextdoor online neighborhood became more stressed. Particularly anxious were people who owned homes in the neighborhood but were away. Described as the 'anti-Facebook' -- each poster’s neighborhood is displayed on Nextdoor, along with the poster’s name – no pseudonyms.  During a crisis like a hurricane, residents post their phone numbers -- their own and those of their neighbors who are not online. 

 "I have COPD. Using oxygen -- wish I could help you." Nextdoor is a Silicon Valley startup valued at $1.1 billion. Most of the initial funding round is still in the bank, says founder Nirav Tolia, explains.  There are only 100 employees, supporting software that as of 2015 they say is used in 35% of neighborhoods in the United States, including Houston, where it became the go-to site to help the community during floods.  And they recruit police into using the tool, claiming to have 1600 public agencies now using it to make community safety announcements. "We are closing our call center now. Our Network Operations Center is rated to withstand a Cat 5 storm and has backup generators to maintain power during an outage."

"We are not charging anyone – tips to my guys are welcome."  A third of Americans don’t know their neighbors.  Facebook’s sprawl is the opposite of what they need  to find help during a storm.  "I am trying by myself but the pain of my neck and shoulders won't let me."  Spreading to 53,000 neighborhoods as of last year, Nextdoor is free to use, like most social networking. The founder says eventually it will monetize – possibly like Craigslist, with paid postings of businesses and services in the neighborhood.  "I'll bring in lawn furniture, potted plants."  "I am available as of 6 tomorrow morning." "Private message me." "Please call." 


Because of the emphasis on hyper-local connectivity with law enforcement and health officials, Nextdoor has an opportunity to carve a niche in the global marketplace when helping to protect citizens from natural calamities similar to Hurricane Matthew wrecking havoc in the Puerto Rican and eastern coastal vicinities of America. If so, this can become another trusted social media source allowing citizens to stay safe from harm’s way when future natural calamities occur in different regions of the world. For all of the evacuees and people in the dangerous path of Hurricane Matthew, stay safe from imminent danger by adhering to evacuation orders from government officials.

Just posted this on a few LinkedIn Groups, including the CDC Office of Emerg Prep which has almost 20,000 members.  Thanks, this might get a few people thinking . . .


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