New feature: Notify your neighbors

Jan072010

We’re excited today to announce a new feature called “Notify your neighbors” — an easy way to post an announcement to your neighborhood.

For the first two years of our site’s existence, we did all the work in compiling neighborhood news: arranging data feeds from governments, parsing blogs and newspaper stories for locations, and otherwise gathering and organizing as much local information as possible. Now, we’re opening it up to you.

You’ll now find a link to “Notify your neighbors” near the top of each place page on our site (example). Click that, and you’ll get a simple form that lets you post a message to the neighborhood. Once you’ve posted it, we’ll publish it to each nearby neighborhood, ZIP and block page so other EveryBlock users can see it. It will also go out in our e-mail alerts and RSS feeds for the appropriate geographic areas. (It’ll be labeled an “announcement.”) Note that you’ll need a free EveryBlock account to post.

What might you use this for? It’s intentionally open-ended. We’ve been making the feature available experimentally over the last few weeks, and people have used it for a variety of things: asking the neighborhood a question, reporting lost pets, warning neighbors of nearby crime incidents, renting out garages, pointing out upcoming rezoning projects, selling candy machines, chatting about missing mailboxes, alerting people to some water main flooding and announcing community events. One person in Chicago is using it to post things he hears on the police scanner. A councilmember in San Jose is using it for community outreach.

Use it for classifieds, use it to report local news, use it to ask questions or otherwise pass information to your neighbors…Use it for things we haven’t thought of! You can think of it as a 21st century community message board.

(Eventually we might add categorization, so that you’d be able to browse classifieds vs. news reports vs. neighborhood questions, but we wanted to keep it as simple as possible to start.)

For the folks using the EveryBlock iPhone app, we’ve improved our app to allow you to post announcements directly from the phone, using your phone’s location. So if you’re walking own the street and see something newsworthy — say, Bill Clinton in town for a visit — you can post it immediately. It’s available in the App Store now, and we’ve added some screenshots to our iPhone app overview page so you can see how it works.

Finally, we’ve added a new “Discussions” tab to each place page (example). This gives you an easy way of viewing all of the discussion happening on EveryBlock in your neighborhood. It shows you each “Notify your neighbors” announcement nearby, plus any item that’s been commented on.

Please help spread the word about “Notify your neighbors.” The more people use it, the more useful it is. Give it a shot, and let us know what you think by posting in the feedback form at the bottom of any EveryBlock page.

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