A strong neighbourhood is key to building safe communities, I strongly believe that neighbours should be more than the people next door but most communities in surburban areas, this is often not the case.
That is the main goal of South Africa’s OurHood social network, to create more over the fence conversations by connecting fellow neighbours. On the app, residents can engage in various topics from local events, services and trends, to reporting crime or notifying dedicated authorities about general upkeep in the neighbourhood using their phone’s GPS.
OurHood was launched in Cape Town as a way of allowing community groups to communicate and organise in a more formal manner than over Facebook or WhatsAapp. A new version of the app was recently launched, improving on the previous one.
The upgraded app comes with push notifications, in which users will get updates when something happens or when there are news updates for their particular suburb. The other new feature is an API for plugging in different services, this enables users to get information from the app on their Twitter/Facebook newsfeeds.
It is a great platform for communities to send out important information to their fellow neighbours, whether it’s a crime warning, news from local councillors or campaign groups. Members of the community can also trade and sell goods amongst themselves.
“We are always looking for ways to effectively engage citizens and whilst we continue to push messages out on our platforms we realise that citizens don’t just want to have a conversation with us about what we think is important to them, but also want to connect with their neighbours about what is meaningful to them,” said Daniel Sullivan, representative from the City of Cape Town.
The platform has over 1000 members and the app is available for download on all Android and iOS devices.