We talked to Paps Shaikh, Commercial Director – EMEA at Nextdoor to discover how the company was using tech for good during the pandemic and beyond.
What has your company developed to use digital tech for good during the pandemic?
We’ve added new features to help communities come together at this time. For example, the Help Map allows neighbours to virtually raise their hand and volunteer to help those who may be vulnerable or isolated. Members can mark on the map if they are willing to help with tasks such as picking up shopping and medication or taking the dog out for a walk. Those needing help can view who has volunteered nearby so they can get in contact and ask for help when they need it.
Since the introduction of the Help Map on Nextdoor, millions of members have viewed it and in the UK 87% have returned at least once to check back. The greater London area was the designated market area with one of the most Nextdoor helpers than anywhere in the world.
Who is it aimed at and why?
The Help Map is available to all our registered members. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began we saw members across thousands of Nextdoor neighbourhoods offering help and requesting assistance. We wanted to make it even easier for neighbours to continue to support each other during this uncertain time.
Nextdoor verifies everyone is real and lives at a real address during the sign-up process. So it is a big enabler for bringing real communities together online, to help one another offline.
What is your distribution strategy for it?
The Help Map was launched on our platform in March and is available to all members. As we were seeing a huge uptake in members wanting to help each other, a 382% lift since January, we wanted to help our members help their neighbours.
When a member would sign up, those who felt they needed help would be able to privately message the member to explain their situation and ask for help.
How did the pandemic alter existing plans for its launch and development?
Nextdoor was built to bring people together which is essential in times of need and so we launched a new feature, inspired by the outpouring of kindness from our members, to help neighbours even more and when it really matters the most. The Help Map is an interactive map of your neighbourhood, where you can mark yourself as someone who is available to help out and support a neighbour in need.
With neighbours all across the UK raising their hands to offer help to those that need it during the COVID-19 pandemic, our Help Map allows you to see your neighbourhood and the people available to help. Nextdoor members can add themselves to the map detailing the errands or support they can provide to elderly and vulnerable neighbours or those at risk.
What role do you see it playing once the pandemic is over?
It’s an interesting question as the Help Map was created so communities could help one another at a time of crisis. Our members around the world have demonstrated kindness on so many levels, and we are really proud to see our mission come to life.
Nextdoor was founded on the idea that we weren’t spending much time getting to know our neighbours. But now we’re all staying home, we need that help and connectivity at the local level more than ever – and I think this will carry on beyond the crisis.
Engagement rates on our platform grew significantly during lockdown, with daily active members increasing more than 80% month over month. We do see increases in engagement at times of need, especially when people are relying on or rallying around others in their community.
In terms of the Help Map, it’s still unclear what role this may play in the future. But as the lockdown eases, there will still be people who need volunteers to pick up shopping, medications, or run errands. And there will still be those who use the Help Map to organise collections and donations to ensure food banks and other nonprofits can continue to serve the community.
There is still uncertainty as to just how long this pandemic will last, but if we look to China and what’s currently happening in Beijing, there is a lot of discussion about a second wave in the UK.
What this will entail really depends on the severity of this the second time around coupled with Government decisions, but what we can be sure of, is Nextdoor will be there to support neighbourhoods across the globe so they can come together when they need it the most.
What is the background to your company?
Nextdoor is the neighbourhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services. We believe that by bringing neighbours together, we can cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighbourhood they can rely on.
It is used in 11 countries across the world and has 260,000 neighbourhoods on the platform.