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CNET News Video: How two apps are keeping people connected
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CNET News Video: How two apps are keeping people connected

2:51 /

More sites are figuring out ways to reach out to communities. The Neighborhood Watch is not only your local gathering for neighbors, but now is an app, and Nextdoor helps communities get to know each other better. Find out more about how these two apps help people come together using technology.

-Our neighborhood is where we eat, sleep, play and live. So it's only natural that residents are turning to technology to make them safer and friendlier. Local neighborhood watch programs now have a new tool, an app designed to help prevent crime. -You can report suspicious people, abandoned vehicles or abandoned property. -The app isn't for emergencies, 911 remains the best way to report crimes in progress but it does provide a direct line to law enforcement. The app was built with 30 some things in mind first time homeowners who were comfortable with tech. -They want an instant communications, something that would further connect the citizens to us in law enforcement. -Technology is also connecting people who maybe strangers but they share an important bond, geography. Next Door is yet another social network but it differs from Facebook. It only connects you to your neighbors. -It's really more about utility not social things. It's not about status updates and photo-sharing. It's about solving problems getting together with your neighbors to solve problems and those problems can be anything like I need a new dry cleaner. I need a new plumber, I need a new electrician. -Next Door, which launched in 2011, and has grown to nearly 20,000 neighborhoods since uses few techniques to verify a member's address. -If they have a landline, we can do what's called a reversed directory look up and call that landline with the special code. If their mobile number is attached to the physical address, we can send them a text message. -Most Next Door post fall under recommendations. When you're looking for a local mechanic asking your LinkedIn or Facebook connections all over the world may not be helpful. But the family living three doors down could know the perfect person. Another popular post category: Crime and Safety, accounting for about 1/5 of all posts. -We got an update from someone in our neighborhood that there was a woman who would broken into a house and had taken a shotgun from this house and was out on the street waiving it around and it happened to be the same street that our babysitter takes our son out on when she's taking him for a walk. And so that was a particularly critical used case. -Bob Grant, a resident in San Francisco Haight-Ashbury, is grateful to Next Door for a totally different reason. It helped him find his lost dog. -They allowed me to send an urgent message to all of my immediate neighbors and they-- along their message with a photo of two little-- to the 19 neighborhoods around us. -A Next Door member spotted Telulu in a park 2 miles from where she went missing. Next Door maybe creating online communities but it's proving to have very real offline benefits. In San Francisco, I'm Sumi Das, CNET.com for CBS News.

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