Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Mobile Police Chief James Barber hit the streets Wednesday to speak with residents near Duval Street about public safety and to promote the neighborhood connectivity application Nextdoor.
Nextdoor is a free private social network that connects the residents of a neighborhood to neighbors and to local police to improve communication and public safety. Wednesday’s outreach marks the second time Stimpson and Barber have visited neighborhoods to promote the app.“This about connecting communities and making them safer,” Barber said. “The program builds social cohesion and interactions amongst the neighborhoods. Years ago, people would look out for their neighbors and sit on the porch to have conversations. This a modern-day version of that.”
Nextdoor functions through the program’s website, nextdoor.com, but is also available through an user friendly smartphone application for Android and iPhone users.
According to Barber, it works similar to Facebook, and allows users to post privately or publicly and also gives police an important tool to get pertinent information to citizens in a specific area.
“It gives a good venue where we can communicate with the neighborhoods,” Barber said. “If we want to give out advice or tell people to be on a the lookout for a suspect or a suspicious vehicle, we can communicate that type of information easily.”According to the company’s website, more than 49,000 neighborhoods across the United States use Nextdoor, but Stimpson said Mobile is the only city in Alabama making a conscious effort to promote the program door to door.
Both Stimpson and Barber recently attended a public safety conference with Gov. Robert Bentley and mayors from the five largest cities in the state, and focused on creating safer neighborhoods. According Stimpson, part of that process is establishing better communication.
“They said, ‘mayor, this isn’t an election year. Why are you doing that?’ I told them, ‘we’re genuinely interested in what’s going on now, we’re not waiting,’” Stimpson said. “It’s not about elections, it’s about finding out what’s going on in the community.”
So far, Stimpson said he’s gotten some “interesting comments” from the public on his two excursions with Barber, but said the city staff plans to continue spreading the program through the neighborhoods of Mobile.
A meeting with the Duval Street community about the Nextdoor program is scheduled for 6 p.m., Feb. 24, at Revelation Baptist Church on Taylor Lane. Police personnel will be available to explain the app and to help citizens get it properly installed on their phones if they wish.