The Annapolis Police Department has announced that they have partnered with Nexdoor, a social networking platform, to improve communications between neighbors. While the concept seems sound, when I joined, I noticed several glaring issues that made me very uncomfortable.
Nextdoor is the private social network for your neighborhood.Nextdoor is the best way to stay in the know about what’s going on in your neighborhood—whether it’s finding a last-minute babysitter, learning about an upcoming block party, or hearing about a rash of car break-ins. There are so many ways our neighbors can help us, we just need an easier way to connect with them.
In today’s online world, there is a lot of information about everyone that is readily accessible. After signing up for Nextdoor, I realized that this is really a platform to share much more information than most people should be comfortable sharing.
- It is not truly a “neighborhood” platform. Postings in my “neighborhood” were from residents in all of the City Wards other than 2 and 3.
- When you post, it automatically posts your “neighborhood” as part of your posting profile.
- In your profile, there are two options for what your “neighbors” can see–your street name, or your full address.
- They claim there is a verification process, but I have my doubts. I “verified” my address by putting in a valid (presumably) street address and my phone number. And then received a phone call (there was a note saying that the phone should bill to that address, but mine does not) asking for the 2 digit code provided online. I was in. (Update: Nextdoor states that if the phone number does not match they will use LexisNexus for verification)
- In the end, after you have registered, you have provided them with your name, address, phone number, email address, and if you chose to “verify” a different way…a credit card number or a utility bill. Seems like a prime target for a hacker to me.
I am not sure you (or your teenage babysitter) wants the world to know that you will be out in Baltimore for the night. Do people in a waterfront home want to be included with their neighbors in public housing? Do you want to remind everyone of your neighborhood (and perhaps specific address) each time you post.
The concept sounds good on the surface; but for me, it is not ready for prime time. Most neighborhoods in Annapolis already have semi-private Facebook pages–membership is approved by a person, not a bot. However, Facebook allows you to lock down your privacy and encourages you to do so.
This is just my experience, thoughts, and concerns–although many reviews echo them along with other concerns. Your results may vary and if you have a different experience or a compelling argument to counter my concerns, please leave a comment.
As for the program, here is the release that the Annapolis Police Department just sent out.
The Annapolis Police Department is announcing a partnership with Nextdoor (www.nextdoor.com), the private social network for neighborhoods, to improve city-wide and neighbor-to-neighbor communications. This integration with Nextdoor will enable the Annapolis Police Department to use Nextdoor to build stronger, safer communities with the help of Annapolis residents. We will be able to work together to increase safety and strengthen virtual neighborhood watch.
“The Annapolis Police Department is committed to collaborating with communities to make neighborhoods safer,” said Police Chief Michael Pristoop. “With Nextdoor, neighbors get to know one another, strengthen existing relationships, and increase information-sharing with the Police Department.”
While there are many police departments across the nation that have joined Nextdoor, the Annapolis Police Department is one of the only in Maryland, joining the Baltimore Police Department and Prince Georges’ County Police Department, among others. Fifteen neighborhoods, representing over 88% of the City of Annapolis, are already on Nextdoor.
“I applaud the Annapolis Police Department for creating additional resources that will strengthen our neighborhoods through education and communication,” Mayor Michael Pantelides said. “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their homes, and this is one more tool that allows our residents and our police department to work toward a common goal of safer neighborhoods.”
With Nextdoor, Annapolis residents can join the private neighborhood website to share information, including neighborhood public safety issues, community events and activities, and local services and programs.
Nextdoor is free for residents and the Annapolis Police Department. Each Annapolis neighborhood has its own private Nextdoor neighborhood website, accessible only to residents who verify that they live in the neighborhood. Neighborhoods establish and self-manage their own Nextdoor websites and the Police Department will not be able to access residents’ websites, contact information, or content. Information shared on Nextdoor is password protected and cannot be accessed by Google or other search engines.
Those interested in joining their neighborhood’s Nextdoor website can visit www.nextdoor.com/annapolis and enter their address. If residents have questions about their Nextdoor website, please visit help.nextdoor.com.