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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Turning your neighbourhood to nethood

Back in 2003, coined the term nethoods to describe an emerging trend: "neighbourhoods, streets and even apartment buildings are starting to get their own internet and intranet sites: not just to promote the many qualities they have to offer their (prospective) inhabitants, but also to provide communal interaction and localised services." A recent example of this trend is LifeAt. Launched in March 2007, LifeAt offers property managers a turnkey solution for launching a nethood for their building. So far, over 335 buildings have joined. The property websites are private and password protected, for use by residents only. Besides offering a platform where residents can meet and communicate, sites also allow users to post classified ads and rate and review local businesses. In addition, property managers post news about vacancies and maintenance work. By connecting people who tend to share not only a building but also similar socioeconomic backgrounds, and offering them a source of hyperlocal information, LifeAt is creating valuable links between cyberspace and 'meatspace'. The concept is likely to find a wider audience now that people of all ages are getting used to sharing information online. Free for residents, LifeAt charges buildings a one-off fee of around USD 6,000 to create and launch a site. One to set up in other countries? And how about a version focusing specifically on office buildings?
With mindless traffic jams and disappearing open space in Dhaka are people getting shy to venture out even in their own neighborhood? Will any entrepreneur come up with the initiative for residents of say Dhanmondi, Gulshan or DOHS etc. to meet, share and keep in touch regarding the community events atleast online, as offline physical meetings are sometimes cumbersome. Food for thought again.

1 comment:

bengal*foam said...

An excellent idea. Something related you might want to check out is (unfortunately only in French) which is an urban social networking site focused just on your neighborhood so you can meet your neighbors, which is often difficult in cities. Here's a BBC article on it:

It's an interesting twist on social networking, and one that would be great for Dhaka.