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San Jose Embraces Social Media to Connect City

With members of the media gathered around, Councilwoman Rose Herrera crouched over a laptop in the City Hall rotunda and sent her first message on www.nextdoor.com to users in her district's neighborhoods.

By Scott Budman
|  Wednesday, Aug 8, 2012  |  Updated 7:44 AM PDT
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Communities across the Bay Area, are gathering for National Night Out. The goal is to get together, and fight crime and take back the street. The South Bay is doing it with a bit of technology thrown in. Scott Budman reports on nextdoor.com

Communities across the Bay Area, are gathering for National Night Out. The goal is to get together, and fight crime and take back the street. The South Bay is doing it with a bit of technology thrown in. Scott Budman reports on nextdoor.com

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, Councilwoman Rose Herrera, and Police Chief Chris Moore came together at City Hall Tuesday to mark the city's utilization of a social network that connects city politicians to neighbors and neighborhoods.

With members of the media gathered around, Councilwoman Rose Herrera crouched over a laptop in the City Hall rotunda and sent her first message on www.nextdoor.com to users in her district's neighborhoods.

Until recently, the Nextdoor website was used primarily for connecting neighbors to neighbors, but the new partnership with the city of San Jose means that government leaders like Herrera will be able to use it to reach their constituents.

According to Nextdoor Chief Executive Officer Nirav Tolia, the company has similar relationships with about 40 other cities, though San Jose is the biggest and the "most pioneering."

"Cities should be focused on using technology in a way that saves taxpayer money," Tolia said.

"Our mission is to bring back a sense of community to the neighborhood," Tolia added, before stressing that the online connections Nextdoor facilitates are intended to create real-world relationships.

Herrera was also quick to emphasize the fact that neighbors who are well connected have the ability to keep a watchful eye on their own communities.

This community-based network comes at a time when members of the police department have been vocal about severe cutbacks to the department in past years, and rising crime.

"You can think of it as a pre-curser to the neighborhood watch," Herrera said of Nextdoor, emphasizing like others, that the network costs taxpayers nothing.

"There's nothing better for a neighborhood than to get organized," Reed said.

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