Just after the New Year, Newark technology advisor Seth Wainer sent a call-to-action to the Code for Newark listserv: he wanted more Newarkers to adopt “Next Door”, a private social network for localities that enables neighbors to share neighborhood news, list classifieds, trade recommendations, and otherwise get to know each other.
Four months later, the network is still growing modestly, with only a few hundred people currently signed up. But what it lacks in scale, it’s starting to make up for in geographical reach across the city. The service first took off in the Ironbound, and is starting to get traction in a handful of other neighborhoods elsewhere in the city. Small group of neighbors are now signed up in the Vailsburg, Lincoln Park, Broadway, University Avenue, and Court neighborhoods.
"This will be a great way to push out messages about events, emergencies, and generally increase Newark's civic strength," Wainer said in his call-to-action.
Next Door is available to anyone with a legitimate Newark address. To sign up, users must first enter their street address, zip code, and basic identifying information. The site then asks users to verify their address by entering a credit card (just to verify the address, they say, not to be stored), social security number, telephone number, or address to have a postcard with a verifcation code sent. Once inside the network, users are able to send messages to individual neighbors, their entire neighborhood, or nearby neighborhoods.
Nextdoor neighborhoods are established when a "Founding Member" – the first member from a given area – signs up on the site. That user establishes the boundaries of the neighborhood, and has 21 days to convince 10 of their neighbors to sign up to cement the neighborhood within the system (Next Door enables users to apply for an extension if they're in danger of passing the 21-day threshold).
Next Door itself is a San Francisco-based company that launched in October of 2011. The company says over 31,000 communities are using its platform nationwide.