By VINCE TROIA
This week the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reached out through Nextdoor, a social networking service for neighborhoods, and its free government interface, to connect with social media users on a hyper-local level.
The move to zero in on a community scale is being done to make neighborhoods “safer and stronger,” according to Josh DeVine, TBI communications director.
DeVine said that the TBI has been active for years on a variety of social media platforms — primarily Facebook and Twitter — but sees Nextdoor and hyper-local community sites as “an opportunity to reach a new set of Tennessee residents.”
The Nextdoor model allows some statewide agencies, including the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, to give residents timely and valuable public safety information, DeVine said.
TBI learned about the opportunity when several members of its team recently attended a conference for government communicators. It envisions sharing information about local crime data, scams, the state’s Sex Offender Registry, and other content that might have broad appeal to users of the platform.
“We’ll be experimenting with a variety of content and certainly looking for user feedback moving forward,” DeVine said, adding that one major benefit will be connecting with folks in emergencies.
“In certain searches for wanted fugitives or missing children, for example, we’ll be able to target messages to users in specific areas,” DeVine said.
DeVine, in his initial post, said that the TBI understands that each resident’s Nextdoor neighborhood network remains private to only those who are verified residents. TBI is not able to see what users and their neighbors are discussing — DeVine only will see ‘thanks’ and replies to TBI posts.
“We will not be monitoring Nextdoor 24/7 and will respond to replies only as capacity allows,” he wrote. “I look forward to interacting with you on Nextdoor and learning from the experience.”
Nextdoor members in Tennessee automatically will get the TBI messages unless they choose to opt out, which they can at http://bit.ly/NextdoorGovManage.
According to DeVine, there are more than 700,000 Nextdoor members across more than 6,500 neighborhoods in Tennessee — or about 16 percent of Tennesseans.
The San Francisco-based company, which launched in fall 2011 in the United States, just this week secured a $123 million investment and is valued at $2.1 million, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
Nextdoor, which markets itself as a “private social network for your neighborhood,” allows residents to connect with each other for safety tips, events and other neighborhood functions. The service is free to users, but real estate agents and other home service providers can buy ads on the platform.