Yesterday, we told you about OurHood, a new mobile and web tool designed to make it easy for people from a specific neighbourhood or suburb to connect and share information privately.
Today, OurHood has launched in Green Point as a pilot project for Cape Town. Part social network, part hyperlocal news service, part civic engagement enabler, a crime and infrastructure problem reporting tool, and a place where people can get special local deals or connect to borrow or trade goods.
The Green Point City Improvement District is one of the first areas to adopt the technology, and where residents can use the online platform. Residents and business owners were immediately on board when co-founder Bruce Good introduced their new project at the Green Point and Oranje-Kloof City Improvement Districts’ annual general meetings at the end of 2013. Since then the site has gone live in Green Point, with the Oranje-Kloof CID area to follow soon.
“We started a soft launch in late May and are very pleased with the way the site is working – and to get such positive feedback from residents. We hope that OurHood will provide the platform to link neighbours digitally and build stronger neighbourhoods throughout SA.”
Communication that typically would occur through media not designed for community interaction – such as Facebook, WhatsApp groups, Neighbourhood Watch sites, Rate Payers sites and other community websites can how happen through one mobile-friendly and free platform – www.ourhood.co.za.
Says Good: “Trust has been identified as the big key to success. People need to feel safe to discuss concerns such as suspicious activity noticed in the area or that they are looking for a house sitter without tipping off criminals, which can happen if these kinds of details are shared on open platforms.”
Says Marc Truss, Chief Executive of the Green Point and Oranje-Kloof City Improvement Districts, “We are essentially a community service. While providing top up services in terms of security, cleansing and the general improvement of the area, community interaction is an imperative element of our ethos. We are therefore very proud to be the first City Improvement District to be involved with the roll-out of OurHood in Cape Town and South Africa.”
OurHood works across all digital devices – from mobile phones to laptops and tablets. It will effectively provide a series of notice boards, one of which links Green Point members to the GPCID. Residents can also use it to:
- Report any criminal activity
- Buy, sell or lend things
- Allow members to advise on the best plumber, electrician or doctor, and other services in the neighbourhood
- Communicate with the ward councillor, report problems such as a faulty street light to the local authorities
- Share lifts, advertise events and organize activities
- Take advantage of unique deals available to their neighbourhood only
In addition to the GPCID portal, OurHood provides contact details for the local councillor and an easy way to report particular Hood issues – such as a pothole, or a faulty street light.
Good confirms that OurHood will remain free to users. Local advertisements and deal vouchers will be the primary source of revenue for this platform and the developers are confident that by laser targeting sales it will be possible to both make money and encourage people to use local shops.
Good says that they plan to roll out OurHood in major South African cities over the next year. They have already signed up agents in Johannesburg and Durban to start spreading the word, and the Cape Town pilot projects and feedback they are receiving from the first participants are invaluable.
Concludes Truss: “With the introduction of free Wi-Fi at St Andrew’s Square and another project due to roll out in the next few months, we are increasingly involved in finding technological solutions to community needs. With Cape Town’s recognition of the importance of the provision of bandwidth to the general public, we are in alignment with this focus on empowering residents and businesses alike to build communities and businesses.”
To sign up for OurHood, simply log on to the site at www.ourhood.co.za and sign up using your physical address. You will then be given a unique code that will give you access to the group you qualify to join, once your address has been verified.