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Meet your neighbours

FROM: Gav Slater

What NEED does this meet?
One of the problems of living in a modern city is that there isn't really much of a community spirit anymore. You could live in the same street for year upon year, and never get to know the person in the house next door, or the flat over the landing.

What is the APPROACH?
The initial idea would be to do a trial on up to a hundred indiviual streets in a city (or several cities), build up a client base, then roll out the service bit by bit, possibly by the use of mail shots, and of course word of mouth, which should let the site snowball.

The basic premise should appeal to human curiosity, as people naturally want to know about their neighbours, but in most circumstances may be afraid to ask them directly

What are the BENEFITS to people?
It's all about building communites again, getting people in the same street talking to each other, and finding common interests. Living in a friendly, vibrant community is happier and more fulfilling than living in isolation.

What is the COMPETITION?
Friends Reunited has recently added a "my street" feature, but that is more to do with finding old friends, rather than making new ones. And of course, there are countless "community" sites on the web, but these are all geared towards bringing people together from all corners of the globe, not two ends of a short street.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Easy enough to roll out, would need a maximum of two servers, one for address/postcode data, and one for user data. The fron end would need probably a maximum of 10 different (dynamic) pages, and the data retrieval back-end would be fairly simple.

The biggest cost would be for bandwidth, if the site took off, as modern database servers can easily deal with 1000 users or 1,000,000 users, but once the data gets sent to the outside world, that's when things start to get expensive.

November 1, 2003 in Health, Increasing Awareness | Permalink


Nice idea but I think you would need to take it out of the "virtual" world and into reality. Perhaps not just IM and chat on-line but also after on-line contact it would be good to be able to set up meetings, organize coffee mornings for lonely mothers stuck at home with the kids etc.

Posted by: Peter Raymond at Nov 1, 2003 4:12:56 PM

As Gav Slater starts to explain, one downside of the ever increasing mobility of people due to commuting to work, eating out, out of town shopping etc. is the reduction of local interaction between people. Single parents, members of the community who are for whatever reason isolated from their neighbours, and those who would like to see an increase in neighbourhood spirit would all benefit from this idea. An increase in communication at a local level could also be effective in lobbying/ influencing local government and the decisions that effect residents.

Peter Raymond is correct in stating that this would be at it's most effective in the real world. Coffee mornings, interest meetings, and charitable acts are the natural progression of the on-line centre.

I am 100% behind this idea, and whether or not it is adopted by MySociety, I think a few like-mided people should get together and look seriously at setting this up.

Please get in touch if you are interested in taking this idea forward.

Posted by: Justin Coombes at Nov 3, 2003 1:04:26 PM

You could just try talking to your neighbours. Next time you see one of them, just smile and say 'Hello.'
I can't remember who said 'There's no technological solution to a sociological problem.' but they were right.

Posted by: andrew at Nov 4, 2003 12:44:33 PM

Please take a look at My Old House - www.myoldhouse.co.uk - which, whilst not the only function of the site, provides this facility.

Posted by: john at Nov 10, 2003 1:06:07 PM

I’ve developed a site that provides Neighbourfinding of the type described above.
www.NeighbourFinder.com offers Property Marketing and People Matchmaking
services in their own right and introduces "Neighbour" as a Relationship
that you can search.
NeighbourFinder is live now, the only thing it needs is publicity...

Posted by: Jonathan Castle at Mar 20, 2004 10:37:41 PM