Can tech help us turn neighborhoods back into communities? OurHood thinks so

OurHood_Screenshot

OurHood_Screenshot

This is interesting. It’s called OurHood and it’s a mobile and web platform trying to cover a slew of hyperlocal needs, starting with Green Point in Cape Town.

Part social network, part hyperlocal news service and part civic engagement enabler, the platform also claims to be a crime and infrastructure problem reporting tool and a place where people can get special local deals or connect to borrow or trade goods.

The Green Point City Improvement District is one of the first areas to adopt the technology, and where residents can use the online platform. The platform claims that reception has been pretty good from the outset.

“We started a soft launch in late May and are very pleased with the way the site is working – and to get such positive feedback from residents. We hope that OurHood will provide the platform to link neighbours digitally and build stronger neighbourhoods throughout SA,” says OurHood co-founder Bruce Good.

The idea is to provide one platform, where a number would otherwise have to have been used.

“Trust has been identified as the big key to success,” says Good. “People need to feel safe to discuss concerns such as suspicious activity noticed in the area or that they are looking for a house sitter without tipping off criminals, which can happen if these kinds of details are shared on open platforms.”

As well is a portal for the local improvement district, OurHood provides contact details for the local councillor and an easy way to report particular Hood issues – such as a pothole, or a faulty street light.

Rather than getting neighborhoods to pay for use of the service, OurHood will remain free to users. Local advertisements and deal vouchers will be the primary source of revenue for this platform and the developers are confident that by laser targeting sales it will be possible to both make money and encourage people to use local shops.

Good says that the plan is to roll out OurHood in major South African cities over the next year, with agents in Johannesburg and Durban signed up.

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