COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It's a neighborhood watch, Craigslist and community newsletter all rolled into one website, and it's being used across southern Colorado.
Nextdoor is a free website and mobile app that creates a social media network specific to your neighborhood. Cheyenne Cañon resident Gabe Caunt started one, initially, to spread the word about fire mitigation.
"I've relied on door-to-door, posters, signs and direct mail," said Caunt. "The Nextdoor site has been, hands down, the best way to reach folks."
Caunt says the network has turned into something much more than a way to discuss fire danger for himself and his neighbors. They converse about crime, events and business recommendations
"A lot of the word of mouth news: Who do you use for this? Who's a petsitter in the neighborhood?" said Caunt.
There are nearly 200 people on the site from Cheyenne Cañon and in the city of Colorado Springs there are close to 70 neighborhoods on the site.
"Having easy, immediate access to those people that live nearby is extremely useful and often crucial, yet research shows that 92% of Americans don't have most of their neighbors' cell phone numbers," said Danielle Michelsen, spokesperson for Nextdoor.
Nextdoor is like a virtual gated community because you can't get in unless you live in a specific neighborhood. People have to verify their home address through a phone call to a landline, a credit card billing statement or a postcard with a code sent from Nextdoor to a home address. Precautions that are necessary, as it can be tough enough to identify your own neighbors.
"There's just an amazing variety of people in Cheyenne Cañon and we recognize each other kind of by our dogs," said Caunt, laughing. "A lot of times people walk their dogs in the open space and this gives us a way of associating the dog with the person, get to know the person."