Seattle police and Mayor Ed Murray’s office are expected to announce plans Wednesday to begin posting city news on the Nextdoor private social network.
Starting Wednesday, Seattle news will be cross-posted from each city department’s blog or website to specific neighborhoods, groups of neighborhoods, or even the entire city via the online network, said police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb. City and police officials, as well as representatives from Nextdoor.com, are expected to announce the partnership during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Nextdoor is a free hyper-local neighborhood network that people can access online or through an app.
With more than 193 neighborhoods in the City of Seattle registered, Seattle is already one of Nextdoor’s strongest markets. Jeremie Beebe, director of partnerships for Nextdoor, said Seattle has one of the company’s highest saturation levels, “even rivaling our hometown of San Francisco.”
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“Twitter and Facebook have their pages for agencies, which is very powerful. However, there’s no way to know who they are. They may be local, they may be in France. With Nextdoor you have to verify your address.”
Beebe said that unlike other social-media platforms, Nextdoor allows police and public officials to interact directly with neighborhood residents. They can poll residents and even post messages.
“They can interact in a private level, ask for feedback or provide information in the case of disaster response,” Beebe said.
Whitcomb calls Nextdoor “a valid social-media platform.”
“In Seattle, we’ve been talking about it for over a year. We wanted to make sure there was appropriate saturation in community use,” he said.
Whitcomb explained that posting news to Nextdoor will only be done by the department’s media-relations team, members of the department’s command staff or Chief Kathleen O’Toole. He said the goal is to get important neighborhood news to residents who don’t read the department’s online SPD Blotter, blog, or follow police on Twitter.
Whitcomb said they plan to use Nextdoor to get out the latest details on crime trends and even poll residents on neighborhood safety concerns.
“We can’t just conclude that public safety information is making it to everybody,” Whitcomb said. “This is a very smart way for us to engage people who may not be connected with their local police department.”
Calling itself a “private social network for you, your neighbors and your community,” Nextdoor requires users to verify their address using one of several methods, including a credit card, phone call, last four digits of a Social Security number, or through a mailed postcard. Users can only post to their own neighborhood’s feed, or in the feed of surrounding areas.
“The inspiration behind Nextdoor was to give people a social network to connect them to one of the most important communities in their lives – the neighborhood. Nextdoor believes that when neighbors start talking, good things happen,” according to the Nextdoor site.