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BeNeighbors -

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Revision as of 13:08, 16 April 2010 by (Talk) (Introduction)

This is the wiki to share background information on the new experimental Neighborly coding project launched at the Minnesota Civic Hackathon on Dec. 12, 2009.

The working domain name for this project is (and


Are you neighborly?

Would you like to build connections with your neighbors ...

  • to make your block safer and prevent crime
  • to "break the ice" and meet or get to know your neighbors
  • to share experiences and tips answering "who can recommend a good plumber"
  • to connect with other parents of young children nearby for playtime
  • organize spontaneous neighborhood block parties on an especially nice spring day
  • and any one of scores of block activities we've identified is a simple idea - use online tools to connect people to their nearest neighbors.

The online service will allow people to define their own "neighbor circle" with 25 to 100 nearest people (in the system so we can serve sparsely populated areas as well as very dense areas alike). People will then be able to exchange private group messages with their nearest neighbors as well as be connected up into broader community and public life through a directory of neighborhood-wide place to interact (including's Issues Forum and lots of Locals Online spaces hosted by others.


Based on each person's community engagement preference each person will have their own circle of neighbors in a simple neighbor directory. Only those whose engagement circles overlap will be able to see each others' information and exchange group messages. The key innovation is that people will select the number of nearest people in the system, NOT actual address points, allowing us to technically serve any area. The challenge will be outreach. In phase two we also envision supporting block leaders in their online communication with bounded areas.

Ideally, this semi-private tier of communication will connect into's very public neighborhood/community-wide Issues Forums and other neighborhood e-mail lists and social networks. This effort will likely be connected to our Participation 3.0 Inclusive Social Media initiative at some point.

A bit of fun ...

Draft Specification

A proposal was submitted into the Knight News Challenge which made it into round two. We used our wiki to draft our submission - Knight News Challenge Neighborly Submission - the proposal emphasized some of the more "news sharing" related aspects of the idea per the contests scope.'

  • Summary
    • You enter your name and address. You share information and links (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blog) about yourself with your nearest neighbors. You select the number of nearest neighbors in our system for a reciprocal connection (default 100). You may dynamically exchange announcements and discussions semi-privately (not in Google) with those in your dynamic "neighbors directory." Participants will receive a customizable e-mail digest of neighbor posts as well as posts from related "public" neighborhood/community Issues Forums, and other local aggregated content.
  • Purpose
    • Help people be neighborly.
  • Goals
    • Connect people online to the nearest neighbors they know and those they do not yet know.
    • Help neighbors communicate quickly and easily as a group.
    • Help neighbors organize:
      • toy and/or tool sharing
      • block parties,
      • crime watch,
      • reuse - free stuff (re-using furniture/appliances that would otherwise be thrown out),
      • activities for youth
      • help neighbors in need
      • meet new neighbors
      • share birth, death, and other major announcements
    • Support block leaders in their communication with as many neighbors as possible.
    • Help neighbors collectively monitor hyper-local news, information, and government data sources.
    • Develop a business model that ensures the sustainability of the network.

  • Principles
    • Build trust among participants through real names and familiarity.
    • Promote self-governance and accountability for actions online.
    • Respect participants desire to be part of community public life while not being overexposed online when interacting with their nearest neighbors.
    • Clearly demonstrate reciprocity and promote awareness of online safety particularly as it relates to those physically near each other.
    • Open source, volunteer-engaged, non-profit, and creative commons connected to the greatest extent possible.
  • Online Experience Outline - Speculative
    • Coming soon.

Stay tuned. For now read the rough neighborly query from mid-2009 outlining the idea and the Knight round one submission.

Data Sources

Depending upon how the system in designed, we may or may not need detailed address data (parcels, addresses points, government jurisdiction, etc.).

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