Keeping the neighborhood safe

One of the great benefits of having a neighborhood website is that you can instantly communicate with everyone in the neighborhood via email. This is useful for many reasons, but it’s most important when it comes to safety.

Take Riss Lake for example, a community of approximately 700 single-family homes. In a community of that size, it’s difficult to communicate in a timely manner, which is one of the reasons that the signed up to utilize our online service.

They now have 469 registered users, which represents about 65% of the community.

Not long after launching the website a series of break-ins occurred, and they decided to report them on the website to prevent further attacks. They put together a quick email the same day that the break-in was reported, which I copied below:

“On November 28, 2006 a home in Riss Lake was broken into and the owner was home. Three men used a screwdriver to break into the basement door and took the homeowners purse. The police were called and a description was provided of the vehicle. The good news is the police stopped the vehicle and found the owners purse in their car.

Please watch for any suspicious activity in the neighborhood and do not hesitate to call 9-1-1. If you are not home let a neighbor know so they can help watch your property, pick up newspapers left in driveways, packages left on front porches all a sign that no one is home.”

The example above shows how communication can keep the neighborhood safe. Without the ability to communicate this information, incidents like these can continue to occur without anyone even knowing about it, and in turn, no action can be taken to prevent future incidents. Neighborhood watch programs are based on this principal of communication and collaboration.

Our “Bulletins” feature allows you to send out emails like this to the entire neighborhood instantly. This is a great safety feature, but also allows you to communicate other time-sensitive information like impromptu events or cancellations.

I do want to mention that by all accounts Riss Lake is a very safe neighborhood, and this was an extremely rare incident. However, the community is now safer with an established online communication channel.

eNeighbors to offer systematic mailings

As I touched on in my previous post, the most important thing when building a neighborhood website (or any website for that matter) is to have a plan for getting people to visit it.

This is the number one reason why neighborhood websites fail – everyone puts all their focus on building the site itself, with no thought of how to get people to use it, or how to get people to keep coming back.

Our current service for neighborhoods allows you to quickly setup a new website in about 5 days. (The actual time is more like 20 minutes, but the paper work and emailing back and forth take a little longer.) We’ve made setting up a new website darn right simple and easy.

We’ve also devised a proven method for getting a majority of your neighborhood online, which basically entails mailing everyone in your neighborhood a unique ID number (PIN) that they can use to register. It keeps things private and exclusive, and you can track who’s online and who’s not. (See my previous post for more information on this process if you’re interested.)

Where we’ve fallen short, however, is relying on our customers to send out the “PIN letters” that contain this critical login information. Asking our customers to figure out how to complete a mail merge is just too much. And because we have to do it multiple times in order to get 60% of the neighborhood online, we think it’s time that we offered an alternative to our customers.

It’s still in planning phase but soon we’ll be able to offer our customers a service package of systematic mailings to get your neighborhood online. More or less, if you don’t want to do the mailings yourself, we’ll offer a cheaper alternative with our bulk discounts. In addition, you won’t have to think about when to mail the letters, or worry about how to complete a mail merge.

The systematic part is the schedule on which we plan to deliver letters (or postcards) to your neighborhood. By signing up for this service, not only will you get the best price and peace of mind, but the PIN letters will be mailed on the most effective schedule for getting your neighborhood online.

For our current customers, please email me if you’re interested in taking advantage of this new program or have feedback on how you would like to see it work.