'Nextdoor' aims to prevent crime, connect neighbors and community

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A smartphone app aims to connect you and your neighbors with the touch of your fingertips.

Nextdoor is a program that's already being used in more than 100 Boise neighborhoods, but city leaders hope by jumping on board with the program they can get more neighborhoods to get involved. They hope it will encourage neighbors to come together to help prevent crime and strengthen community relationships.

After seeing the success of Nextdoor in other parts of the country, city leaders decided Boise was the the perfect place to plant the next seed.

"Boise's community is a strong community base," Boise Police Department deputy chief William Bones said. "We have great neighborhood groups that have that identity and share information, those neighborhood watches. So knowing that, we thought this really has a great base for sharing that information in a new way."

The site, which is available online or on a smartphone, is designed specifically for individual neighborhoods and the people in them. Essentially, it's a private social media site.

"We wanted something that was tied to the community, the neighborhoods, the smaller groups," Bones said. "We think that's much more likely to be successful than something that's city-wide."

Boise Police, Boise Fire and Boise Parks and Rec are all using the program to post pin-pointed information on crime and other events that are happening in specific neighborhoods and areas of town.

"You know, maybe the next morning, there was a crash last night, we share with you what happened," Bones said. "Why the power was out, or why the officers were down the street."

Think of it as a virtual neighborhood watch designed for the 21st century

"For me the thing that would be the most important thing would be to see if there's crime in my neighborhood or anything in my immediate area that I'd want to know about," Boise resident Ryan Jensen said.

The site also gives you the chance to warn people of suspicious activity you've seen on the street.
But it also allows you to post plans for a neighborhood gathering, requests for a qualified local baby sitter, or simply an inquiry about a cup of sugar

"I think especially in the newer age, like in your twenties and thirties, those that use a lot of technology would be useful in a better way than having to go door to door," Greta Frey said.

Frey and Jensen both said they would try out the program in their neighborhood if someone else started it, but say there should be limits as to what and how much people can post.

"I think for some people it definitely will catch and they'll use it a lot," Jensen said. "But I think for other people they'll try it out and maybe not want to give out as much personal information as far as their home address and where they live to people that they don't know."

Whether you need a dog sitter, want to start a tennis league, or report a lost pet, leaders say Nextdoor provides a platform to connect with your neighbors. Neighborhood by neighborhood, city leaders hope Nextdoor will help make the streets safer, and the community more connected.

"I just hope we can keep moving forward as a city I mean this is a place you want to raise your kids," Bones said. "I think those neighborhoods, as we grow as a city, the identity of those smaller neighborhoods becomes more important."