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Nextdoor Rollout, Two Months In

This post is a follow up to my original story, Nextdoor: Social Media For The Neighborhood.  If you’re not up to speed on Nextdoor go ahead and read that original post first.

It’s been about two months (as I write this) since my department launched Nextdoor and there’s been some progress in a number of areas to report back on.

Adoption and membership

Back at the end of August 2013 we had been recruiting founding members and putting the word out via our traditional forms of social media, specifically Twitter and Facebook.  I emphasize this because I do think we would have had a much slower adoption rate without the significant audience we already had in place on those platforms. On launch day we were approaching 600 Nextdoor members.  Today is November 3, 2013 and we now have just over 2400 members representing 37 neighborhoods for a total of 12% of households.  When looking at individual neighborhoods the numbers range from a low of 4% of households up to 43% on the high end.  The largest membership in one of our biggest neighborhoods is 210.  Every area of town is represented and every neighborhood has launched permanently.  Here’s how our map looks.

Nextdoor Neighborhoods

Nextdoor Neighborhoods

During the last two months we continued to promote Nextdoor via Twitter and Facebook.  Nextdoor also assisted us by sending out “Express emails” through a third party. This effort was good for 200-300 more sign ups.  It also irritated a few residents that didn’t appreciate the unsolicited emails but there was only the initial email and a follow up one about a week later.  The bottom line is that we have exceeded expectations on the adoption side and our efforts have been bolstered by the residents themselves inviting their neighbors and friends to join.

Feedback from residents

Lets look at some actual feedback

“I’ve only been a member a couple of days but I like being connected to the neighborhood and knowing what is going on around the town.”

“We’re really happy with this. It’s a great way to connect with people in your neighborhood.”

“I was hesitant, but actually enjoy it now. It seems to be helpful with crime alerts in certain neighborhoods. Just have to figure out which neighborhoods they are living in when they post the activity. I think long term it is very helpful”

“This is a terrific service! I enjoy the traffic updates because they tell me what part of town to avoid when I’m going out. I like all of the communications with the police dept. I like the communications with my neighborhood and adjacent neighborhoods. I hope we can avoid political bickering although opinions are important and good to see as long as it doesn’t become obsessive. Otherwise what can possible be wrong with communication?  I wish we had this system years ago. Great job! Thanks”

“I think this is an excellent tool for our community. It has been very effective in getting information out to spefic areas as well as the whole town. It brings back the feeling of neighborhoods as they used to be. Keep up the good work I really appreciate your efforts.”

There’s a lot more positive comments but for the sake of space we can end it there.  Any negative comments have been very minor and usually involve some elements of the software.

Functionality and Support for the Municipality

I’m not going to rehash too many items that were already discussed in my August 26th post regarding how the platform works but I will share some thoughts since we launched.  One particular shortcoming that is hopefully being addressed soon is the complete lack of city functions from their mobile apps.  While residents have mobile apps for iOS and Android, they don’t yet support city functions.  This means that you won’t be using an app to update your residents on the go.  Its not all lost as you can update from the browser, which is slow and clunky, but works OK.  The biggest issue with using the browser I’ve found is the tendency for the browsers to refresh if you leave it to reference another app. On more than one occasion I’ve had to go to an email to reference some information for my Nextdoor post only to find that any work I already did was gone and I had to start over.  This is incredibly frustrating when you’re out in the field.  Law Enforcement technology is increasingly mobile and the need for the mobile app to support city functionality will be important if Nextdoor wants Police Departments to consistently use its platform.  You can reply to an email notification and the reply will post to the originating thread.  This is convenient and posts fairly quickly most of the time. While using a mobile data terminal eliminates some of these limitations, there are still many agencies that don’t provide internet access on their mobile data terminals (why?).

We’ve also had residents reply to some of our posts asking what time the post was created.  Many incidents are time sensitive and Nextdoor doesn’t stamp the time on posts accurately.  Instead, its more of a general “2 hours ago” or just a date.  This is not helpful in many cases.  Its something we gave feedback on and I am told that the time stamps will be reworked in the future.

To this day I still have trouble understanding how Nextdoor orders posts.  There is no option to sort by “date created” or “last updated”.  And, if you use the mobile apps as a resident you’ll be even more confused about what determines the order of the content.

There’s also no way to edit a post once its created.  If you’ve made some typos or spelling errors you’ll need to delete and recreate the post.  I’ve also been informed that this will be enhanced soon.

Recently, Nextdoor added the ability to disable replies.  This prevents a stale topic from being commented on once it loses relevance.  They’ve also added the ability to delete an urgent alert and enhanced private messages to indicate new messages better on the website.

But, overall, Nextdoor software is easy to use, functional and is constantly improving and it seems to be doing things better than many other platforms.  I’ve had many older folks, that aren’t tech savvy, take to Nextdoor and use it.  That’s encouraging.

In the area of support, there’s nothing negative to report. Nextdoor staff is always responsive and proud of their product, and it shows.

Moving Ahead

I believe the future looks bright for Nextdoor but time will tell.  There’s certainly a lot of encouraging investment in their product.  Just recently they raised another $60 million in investment.  That’s $100 million in the last 18 months.  I have no doubt that municipal partnerships will expand and the functionality will increase as well.

We continue to see steady growth but it has slowed a bit so we are already considering a new round of publicity, though we have not settled on the strategy just yet.  Nextdoor continues to set itself apart from traditional social media by verifying the address of residents during registration, not allowing anonymity and providing a private online environment.  This provides a great audience for the police to share information.

Greg is a Police Lieutenant with the Billerica MA Police Department. An 18 year veteran, Greg manages Communications and Technology which includes social media initiatives.



Highlights of #Poltwt – half way through

The second #poltwt is well underway with over 250 agency accounts and over 75 officers accounts as registered participants. We have representatives from South Africa, Kenya, Estonia, Belgium, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, Canada and United States. As I write this, registrations continue to come in. All will be noted on the #poltwt Google map as well as the official Twitter list.

#Poltwt Hang Outs to Watch
A Google Hangout hosted by Chief Inspector Kerry Blakeman of the West Midlands Police featuring Amanda Coleman of Greater Manchester Police and me was held earlier today. See it here:

At 3 p.m. Eastern, Constable Scott Mills and I will host a another with international guests to discuss the tweet-a-thon and social media in general.

Our #Poltwt Supporters
Our friends at BrightPlanet will be harvesting all the tweets and giving us the numerical details during #poltwt as well as a summary when its done. We would also like to welcome PublicEye, an iPad and Android based multifunctional law enforcement tool for police officers in the field.

BrightPlanet has the fastest, most powerful tools and services available to help you turn information into intelligence.

Available on all major mobile platforms including iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows 8. Please click the logo to learn more and register for a free webinar.

I'm sorry Sir, it's against the law

I’m sorry Sir, it’s against the law

There are plenty of arcane, not to say bizarre laws in the UK.

  • MPs aren’t aware of wear armour in parliament.
  • You can’t beat or shake a carpet rug in any street in the Metropolitan Police District.
  • It’s illegal to import Polish potatoes (put on the Statute Book in 2004)

For more examples, see here.

Some of the laws don’t prohibit behaviour but officially sanction it:

Like the right to drive sheep across London Bridge as freemen of the City of London

Or the right for pregnant women to relieve themselves anywhere they see fit.

However, as usual, we must acknowledge the superiority of our US friends when it comes to the wild and wacky category:

See the infographic below to find out:


Strangest Laws Still in Effect Today

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.


Global Police Tweet-a-thon, the sequel

Next Global Police Tweet-a-thon is November 1st!

History in the making
March 22nd of this year was an epic day for law enforcement. It was the day over 200 law enforcement agencies all across the western hemisphere took to Twitter for 24 hours or a portion thereof to tweet about their work. With the hashtag #poltwt, we trended from New Zealand west to Australia, across Europe and then from the east coast of North America  in a wave across to the west coast.

On November 1st, will make history one again. In March, we reached over 11M people with 48,842 tweets in 23 different languages. We hope to make the next #poltwt ever bigger.

Beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, Nov 1st until 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov 2nd, in your local timezone, tweet any or all of the 24 hours.

The Objective
The overall purpose of the tweet-a-thon is to call attention to policing as well as to police use of social media. Each agency sets its own goals beyond that and tweets whatever portion of the 24 hours that works for you.

The only “rule” is that ever tweet contains the hashtag #poltwt

To sign up:

Email Lauri Stevens at lauri@lawscomm.net

Use subject line: #poltwt

In the message, indicate your Twitter name, your agency name, your physical address (so we can accurately place you on the Google map). If you plan to tweet as an individual officer, give us all of the above and also let us know you’re tweeting as yourself. All emails should come from your government/police address.


2013 ConnectedCOPS Awards Winners Announced

LAwS Communications Announces the Winners of the International ConnectedCOPS Awards

 Recipients announced in eight categories at The SMILE Conference in Omaha, Neb.

Omaha, NE – October 01, 2013 – The winners of the second annual ConnectedCOPS™ Awards were announced last week at the SMILE Conference® in Omaha, Nebraska. The awards program began last year and immediately became highly sought after by law officers using social media in police operations.

“It is still very rare for law enforcement to understand the true depths of engagement they can achieve with social media,” said Lauri Stevens, founder of LAwS Communications and the ConnectedCOPS Awards. “The winners of the ConnectedCOPS awards are the people and agencies who are at the forefront of this realization. So in turn they set the bar and they set it very high for their peers. Through these awards, I hope we’re able to signal to others that social media isn’t about checking a box, but rather should be approached with proactive strategy and strong governance. If we succeed, law enforcement can become more transparent but also more efficient and potentially put more bad guys behind bars.”

From L to R is Sergeant Thorir Ingvarsson, Reykjavik Metropolitan Police (Excellence at a Large Agency); Superintendent Gary Askin, Waterloo Regional Police; Lindsay Charlesworth, Waterloo Regional Police (Social Media Campaign); Sean Stephenson, Calgary Police (Social Media Event Management); Detective Sam Palmer, Phoenix Police (Social Media Investigator); Bridget Fitzpatrick, Omaha Police (Civilian Award of Excellence); Lieutenant Christopher Cook, Arlington, TX (Social Media Leadership)
Not pictured: Deputy Chief Peter Sloly, Toronto Police (Social Media Top Cop); Bernard Keyworth, North West Motorway Group (Excellence at a Small Agency)

The 2013 ConnectedCOPS Awards winners in eight categories are:

Social Media Award of Excellence at a Large Agency – Reykjavik Police, Iceland

“We are honored to receive this important and prestigious award, not to mention when we see who else were nominated and how many police departments around the world are doing great things in the field,” said Stefan Eriksson, Chief of Police of the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police. “The use of social media has been an important aspect of information sharing for the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police but importantly also in maintaining a relationship with the citizens in the last few years. The key to our success in the field has been in how people have embraced this new type of communication and have been willing to participate. Therefore it has been crucial to realize that social media is not a one way street but a town square, where the police and the people they serve can converse and work together.” 

Social Media Award of Excellence at a Small Agency – North West Motorway Police Group, United Kingdom

“It was a unexpected surprise to receive international recognition for the NWMPG’s use of social media, particularly as we have only been using it, to improve policing on the Region’s motorways, for just over a year,” said Bernard Keyworth, a supervisor from the NWMPG.

Social Media Leadership Award – Lieutenant Christopher Cook, Arlington, TX Police, United States

“I want to thank our outstanding citizens for connecting with the Arlington Police Department through social media,” said Christopher Cook, Arlington Police. “Furthermore, I want to give credit to Police Chief Will Johnson for his commitment to social media strategies and my team of employees who work tirelessly to bring innovative and exciting content to all of our platforms. It’s truly a humbling experience and honor to be recognized as a pioneer in law enforcement social media.”

Social Media Civilian Award of Excellence – Bridget Fitzpatrick, Omaha, NE Police, United States

“It is an honor to be recognized by the SMILE Conference judges,” said Bridget Fitzpatrick, Omaha Police. “This award is a reflection not only of my work but also of the work of the staff of PIO’s for the Omaha Police Department, and more importantly the progressive mindset of Chief Todd Schmaderer. Without his support and encouragement, OPD would not be excelling as well in the social media world.”

Social Media Top Cop Award – Deputy Chief Peter Sloly, Toronto Police, ON, Canada

“The SMILE Conference social media Top Cop award is an honor but more a reflection of the inspiration that TPS trail blazers like Scott Mills, Tim Burrows and Ritesh Kotak have had on me,” said Peter Sloly, Toronto Police. “I wanted to use my rank and role in the TPS to enlighten and empower other officers to use social media to improve public safety, public service and public trust. The Top Cop award validates those efforts. I am indebted to Lauri Stevens and The SMILE Conference for giving me both the technical competence and strategic confidence to build the TPS social media strategy. Lauri gets a big assist for this Top Cop award.”

Social Media Investigator Award (Sponsored by LexisNexis) – Detective Sam Palmer, Phoenix Police, United States

“I am very honored to receive the ConnectedCOPS Social Media Investigator of the year award and look forward to being part of a trend in law enforcement,” said Sam Palmer, Phoenix Police. “Using technology based investigative techniques to help solve crimes is a new direction in law enforcement. It is cutting edge and exciting and I am proud to be part of it.”

Social Media Event Management Award – Calgary Police, AB, Canada

“The Strategic Communications Unit was working 24 hours a day without knowing how long it would be necessary to continue,” said Sean Stephenson, Calgary Police. “While I accept this award on behalf of the Calgary Police Service, I must acknowledge and thank my team for their efforts round the clock on the day the flood hit and the weeks that followed, and all Calgarians for their support and for taking our messages and moving them from social media to social groups.”

Social Media Campaign Management Award – Waterloo Regional Police, ON, Canada

“It is such an honor to be recognized for this award. Social Media has proven to be an incredible weapon for police to engage, educate, inform and connect with our community,” said Gary Askin, Waterloo Regional Police. “We are fortunate and grateful to Lauri Stevens and SMILE/Connected Cops to have created an environment where we can all learn from each other and force multiply our presence to enhance community safety, everywhere.”

For more information on the ConnectedCOPS Awards, please visit http://ConnectedCOPS.net/ConnectedCOPSAwards.

About LAwS Communications

LAwS Communications has been providing interactive media advice to law enforcement since 2005. Open Source communication technologies available today allow organizations to efficiently gather and distribute information like never before. LAwS Communications works with law enforcement professionals to help make sense of the tools available, help agencies craft a plan and social media policy as well as provide the training needed. LAwS Communications can help law enforcement organizations not only understand why an agency should take advantage of social media technologies, but also how to leverage these vast resources. LAwS Communications is located in Newbury, Massachusetts. It is a subsidiary of Stevens & Associates Inc.

For more information, please visit http://lawscommunications.com.



Lauri Stevens

LAwS Communications

(978) 764-9887


PR Contact:

Nicole Fait

Public Communications Worldwide

(714) 891-3660


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