App seeks to connect neighbours

By Paul Harper

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The internet has made the world smaller, but sometimes it seems like our neighbours have never been further far away.

With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram I could tell you what an old school friend did last night, what my cousin in the UK had for breakfast or what a stranger had for lunch, but I don't know the names any of the neighbours of the last half dozen houses I've lived in.

Neighbourly hopes to change that.

Launched nationwide this month, Neighbourly is a website and app which seeks to connect people to their neighbours.

Free to sign up, every user has to verify their address and sign up with their real name, which should ensure interactions between users are more civil and genuine than on other websites.

A quick nosey on the Neighbourly notice board for the Auckland suburb of St Heliers and it is apparent there's a lot going on. The first post I see is for a group knitting beanies for babies born at Middlemore Hospital over the winter. Below that post, a new migrant is appealing for household goods while they wait for their possessions to ship to New Zealand. A couple of posts down, an Orakei resident asks for recommendations for a good dentist.

When posting, you can opt for the message to be seen by just your suburbs, or you can expose it to neighbouring suburbs too.

The website could prove to be an important resource for voters and politicians, particularly in an election year.

In one post, St Heliers residents voice their concerns about the closure of the local post office, which Tamaki MP Simon O'Conner promised to look into.

Local government, Civil Defence and the police also have a presence - Auckland Council has posted about Queen's Birthday rubbish collections, for example - and urgent crime and safety messages can be sent directly to your phone.

There is also a classified section, where users can list items to buy, sell or trade, give away free stuff (got more feijoas than you know what to do with?), a lost and found, and a place to post recommendations.

The layout of the site is free of clutter (no advertising) and easy to navigate.

People are already using existing social networking sites to organise events or find missing pets, but given that Neighbourly connects you just to those in your immediate vicinity it is surely a better way to communicate with those in your community.

I've heard it said that Facebook connects you to those you do know, and Twitter to those you want to know. Perhaps Neighbourly connects you to those you should know.

- NZ Herald

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