Private Social Network Helps Neighbors Fight Crime


UPDATED: Wednesday September 11, 2013 3:50 AM

The motto “United We Stand” applies to more than political movements.

It also describes how technology can be a powerful took in keeping your neighborhood safe.

Crime can happen anywhere, and when it comes to fighting it, some neighbors think there’s strength in numbers.

Chuck Totten is assembling a neighborhood full of crime fighters, through a website called NextDoor.

“In three days, we went from zero people to over 100,” he said. “It says, ‘Hi Knolls neighbors, be on the lookout for a white Chrysler, Ohio license plate number.’”
Totten said that police arrested a suspect in a series of burglaries in the Knolls neighborhood of northwest Columbus through information gleaned from the social media site.

He said the primary difference between a site like Facebook and NextDoor is that NextDoor is a private network.

Earlier this year, residents in the Short North showed CrimeTracker 10 how they use Facebook to stay informed about criminal activity.

But outsiders can also peek in on their page. That’s not the case with NextDoor.

“To join, you have to verify that you live in the neighborhood boundaries of that website,” said Kelsey Grady of NextDoor, which is based in San Francisco.

NextDoor’s website demonstrates that users also have to reveal their real names and addresses to be part of the site.

It also generates a map to show the people in the neighborhood who are part of the group as well as those who are not members.

Each person can choose the information they want to share or not share. They can also communicate with everyone or only one person at a time.

“And when neighbors are looking out for each other, they can collect a lot of really vital information that can help police do their jobs,” Grady said.

Columbus police have encouraged bock watch groups to take a look at the technology as a way to boost neighborhood safety.

NextDoor officials say that more than 90 neighborhoods in the Columbus area are using the site.

For more information on NextDoor, click here.

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