In our increasingly interconnected world, technology has the potential to build neighbourly trust and address the pervasive issue of loneliness. Through various digital platforms and applications, technology provides opportunities for neighbours to connect, engage, and support each other.
Neighbourhood networks like Nextdoor enable individuals to reach out, share experiences, and find common ground with their neighbours, providing a space for meaningful interactions, where residents can exchange information, seek advice, and organize local initiatives. By facilitating communication and fostering a sense of belonging, technology helps build neighbourly trust and strengthens community ties.
Calgary Tech sat down with Christopher Doyle, Managing Director of Nextdoor in Canada, who advocates for “technology for good” to talk about building stronger community ties through tech.
Why do urban Canadians tend to be less trusting of their neighbours and how does Nextdoor intend to address this?
CD: That’s an interesting question because we’ve seen some differing data on that over the last few years. For instance, in 2021, the team at Nextdoor discovered that Canadians felt a deeper connection with their neighbourhoods with 71% of Canadian adults reporting a renewed appreciation for their neighbourhood compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic and we projected that this trend would continue.
But fast forward to 2022, the Angus Reid Institute reported a decline in friendliness within neighbourhoods, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. More than that, the report found that belonging and connection were splintered along generational lines, with older residents feeling supported within their place-based communities, and younger people finding a greater sense of community when making ethnic or experience-based connections.
This goes to show that to build strong communities where all neighbours can establish long-term connections, there needs to be a reliable, trusted way for people to find an ecosystem that truly matters to them so that they feel a continued sense of belonging and unwavering support!
Being a platform that aims to create greater cohesion and togetherness among neighbours, Nextdoor is actively working to combat the ongoing issue of loneliness among Canadians by providing a safe space where neighbours can connect and build relationships through private messaging, local news and event updates, recommendations of businesses in the area, and so much more.
We want to be a place for neighbours that fosters meaningful connections, neighbours can build trust within their communities to find a feeling of togetherness, but also to trust us to be the platform they can safely and comfortably do that.
Why is connectivity and trust so important among neighbours in a community?
Firstly, I believe that connectivity encourages a sense of belonging and social cohesion. Coming from a very close-knit community, I’ve felt it firsthand.
When neighbours feel connected to one another, they develop a stronger sense of community identity and shared purpose. This creates an environment where people are more likely to look out for and support each other, fostering social capital, and a safer local community.
For instance, neighbours on Nextdoor can reach out to their communities for any kind of support, from looking for a lost pet and raising funds for community projects to rally neighbourhood support for a good cause.
To me, trust is the foundation of positive neighbourly relationships. Trust allows individuals to rely on their neighbours for various forms of support, whether it’s borrowing a cup of sugar or looking out for each other’s homes when away. When trust exists, people are more willing to collaborate, share resources, and actively participate in community initiatives, leading to the overall well-being and resilience of the neighbourhood. In this way, Nextdoor helps connect needs in the community to vital local resources.
Connectivity and trust also contribute to better communication and problem-solving within the community. When neighbours have open lines of communication and feel comfortable expressing their concerns or ideas, they can work together to address common issues, make collective decisions, and improve the quality of life in the neighbourhood. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of empowerment, as residents feel their voices are heard and their contributions matter.
Connectivity and trust play a vital role in building social support networks. In times of crisis or emergencies, having strong neighbourly connections allows for quick response and assistance. Whether it’s helping during natural disasters, supporting vulnerable community members, or organizing neighbourhood events, a network of trusted neighbours ensures a stronger and more resilient community.
Loneliness is something that many struggle with, especially during the colder months, which is coming up quickly. How does Nextdoor aim to help neighbours with this?
CD: Nextdoor helps combat this by providing various resources and features to connect individuals within their local communities. The Nextdoor Loneliness Toolkit, for example, offers support groups and online resources specifically designed to address feelings of loneliness within the neighbourhood, serving as a hub where users can find valuable resources and connect with others who may be experiencing similar emotions.
Neighbours can also join groups centred around common interests, making it easier for neighbours to connect and engage with like-minded individuals in their community. The platform also allows users to check in on their neighbours via direct messages, fostering personal connections and showing care and concern.
We also discovered that knowing just six neighbours can combat feelings of loneliness. By facilitating interactions and acts of kindness among neighbours, Nextdoor aims to create a stronger sense of belonging and reduce the likelihood of loneliness within communities.
Through its initiatives, research partnerships, and global campaigns, we strive to break the cycle of loneliness and social isolation, promoting a kinder world where everyone has a supportive neighbourhood they can rely on.
In your opinion, how does Nextdoor differ from other social media platforms, especially in terms of helping neighbours combat loneliness?
CD: I’ve been a first-hand witness to other social media platforms and how damaging the impact of focusing on algorithms and mindless engagement can be to users.
At Nextdoor, we aim to ensure inclusivity and togetherness among neighbours, providing a platform that motivates users to reach out to those around them and take necessary steps to build connections – not just on the platform but off the platform as well. In a world where technology dominates our interactions, the value of real-life connections with neighbours cannot be overstated. While digital platforms and social media have their place, there is an irreplaceable power in face-to-face interactions within our local communities. Building relationships with neighbours fosters a sense of belonging, security, and support. Having familiar faces nearby creates a safety net where neighbours can rely on each other during times of need.
Whether it’s borrowing a cup of sugar, looking after each other’s homes, or sharing important information during emergencies, these small gestures create a strong foundation for community resilience. Neighbours can also tap into our resources and support groups within communities to combat loneliness. I truly believe technology can be used for good, and I believe Nextdoor is doing just that for communities across Canada.