Online neighborhood sites to get city info

City officials in Philadelphia can now directly communicate with the roughly 17,000 residents who belong to Nextdoor.com, a free social network geared towards building community.

Under a new partnership, select city departments will be able to post information about municipal services, road closures and crime to any one of the site’s virtual community bulletins.

They won’t, however, be able to view the contents of any given site. That’ll remain private for members, who all must verify that they live in the neighborhood site they want to join.

“We think the more opportunities we give folks the ability to be heard, to us their ideas to help us solve problems in the communities where they live, the better it is for all of us,” said Managing Director Rich Negrin.

Shazana Goff, a member of South Kensington’s site, said she’s already seen the benefit of the city’s new-found posting abilities.

“They posted what the trash collection is going to be like for the holidays which is great because we’re always asking each other, like ‘Oh since trash isn’t getting picked up this day is it getting picked up that day. So now we have a clarification,” said Goff.

Mt. Airy resident Heather Pierce also welcomes Nextdoor’s newest member. For her, anything that makes residents less isolated, less forgotten about, is a good thing.

“The city and its departments are totally separate from our communities and I think this gives the city an opportunity to kind of reach into every community and be more informative,” said Pierce.

And potentially, she said, the partnership can strengthen communities and, in turn, the city.

The Streets Department, Office of Emergency Management, Licenses & Inspections and Town Watch Integrated Services are all part of the partnership.

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