OurHood has been gaining traction in neighbourhoods all across the country. The number of users, new and old, logging in to keep updated on the happenings in their neighbourhoods is the highest we’ve had since we started more that two years ago.

And it is all thanks to you! Our trusted neighbours who see the value of sharing information and talking to the members of your community.

Featured

OurHood was recently featured on online news website 2oceansvibe. They provided the perfect description of what OurHood is and exactly why thousands of neighbourhoods in South Africa.

“To keep informed on happenings in your neighbourhood, you need to join OurHood – SA’s private social network for neighbourhoods. Uber is for taxis, LinkedIn is for your career, Airbnb is for accommodation. OurHood is for neighbourhood communication.”

Here’s the full story:

By 2oceansvibe editor in chief, Seth Rotherham

I’ve been at the forefront of guiding people through the modern day etiquette as it relates to technology. Pre cell phones, it was acceptable to call people from your landline whenever it suited you, but the rules have changed. Unless you’re calling family you first message, see when might be convenient, and then you call.

Before Uber, it was necessary to endure the agony of calling a cab, waiting for hours on end and then sitting in a filthy cab listening to the operator connecting the drivers to their next lift. Now it’s not.

And now we have to learn how to use WhatsApp. I’ve recently been added to a neighbourhood WhatsApp group and it’s driving me insane. So now my next crusade begins – guiding you all through the rules of engagement for neighbourhood communication.

To keep informed on happenings in your neighbourhood, you need to join OurHood – SA’s private social network for neighbourhoods. Uber is for taxis, LinkedIn is for your career, Airbnb is for accommodation.

OurHood is for neighbourhood communication.

It’s also hard to ignore the article – ‘A design flaw in Slack and WhatsApp is creating a uniquely 21st-century etiquette problem‘ – written by Rosie Spinks for Quartz this week, decrying Whatsapp. It seems the elephant in the room has been identified and it’s playing into OurHood’s hands. Here’s an extract from that article:

“Let me start by stating what should be obvious: I do not want to join your WhatsApp group.

But the messaging app does not give me a choice. I do not get to opt into groups; a group administrator can add people without their consent. I can mute the group (in oddly random increments of eight hours, one week, or one year), but I can’t prevent an overly talkative conversation from always being at the top of my chat history. And I can leave the group, of course—but not without the entire group being notified that I’ve done so.”

But that’s just the beginning. She goes on to state what’s on everyone’s mind when it comes to notifications:

“In the digital era, the single most precious resource we have is our attention. I’m constantly trying to minimize noise on my smartphone—toggling off nearly all push notifications and ruthlessly unsubscribing to automated emails. But for fear of appearing rude on WhatsApp, I was putting up with near-constant chatter about so-and-so’s cocktail hour in Paris or sunrise in Bali. It had gotten so bad, I was accustomed to pulling my phone out of my pocket and scrolling vigorously past a slew of notifications just to see if I had any new texts.”

 

Enter OurHood, , the South African startup which combines the best of Whatsapp and Facebook neighbourhood groups – a being purpose-built social network for neighbourhoods We caught up with OurHood”s MD, Bruce Good:

“We built OurHood to create a better platform for neighbourhood communication. The need is obvious – hence the thousands of neighbourhood and street groups, organized around immediate communication of crime.

Every day we meet with neighbourhood groups seeking an an alternative to the tools at their disposal – email, WhatsApp, FB groups and even Twitter. OurHood consolidates these.

While WhatsApp is an outstanding product for communication, it isn’t designed for large neighbourhood groups (or event groups) and that’s why there is much excitement around OurHood.

Now we have close to 1,500 neighbourhoods using our website and mobile apps across the country.

Users have a few main issues with WhatsApp groups: Notifications are incessant, you’re forced to make your cell number public, they quickly become a nightmare to follow, and they aren’t based on your geographical location.

Users create WhatsApp groups for their neighbourhoods or street, with the best intentions, but they can descend into an unstructured mess rapidly. Suddenly John down the road sends a link to the group requesting support for something political, or a number you don’t have saved in your phone says they’ve lost a dog. Or someone else asks for the admin person to include another person in the group. All the time causing pinging on phone, when all you wanted was crime alerts.

WhatsApp is a phenomenal tool and I use it daily. It’s just not designed for neighbourhood communication.”

Ok. So how does OurHood work differently?

“Firstly, all our users are verified, so they know they’re talking to their real neighbours.

The OurHood noticeboard feels like a FB feed and is divided into General, Alerts, Events or Trade posts, and you can choose which posts you receive notifications for. So if you’ve chosen Alert notifications, you won’t be bothered when Ruth at number 64 requests help pruning her roses. Trade posts have exploded in some of our Johannesburg hoods. Users seem to appreciate the ease of buying / selling / swapping goods within their immediate, verified neighbours.

As part of our research, we have joined hundreds of Facebook neighbourhood groups across the country – hoods we clearly don’t live in. There are very few barriers to entry and the exposure to sensitive neighbourhood information can be alarming.”

But what about groups – can you form groups?

“Yes absolutely. Not only can you form groups, but you can choose not to join a group, even if invited. Some OurHood communities have formed up to 20 groups – everything from street groups and running clubs, to baby playdates and ‘book clubs’.”

Hah! Yes, “book clubs” indeed!

A massive opportunity presents itself for neighbourhood associations, too.

“We have a feature for ratepayer associations and any neighbourhood partner, allowing them to send posts and notification to users who turn this feature on. This could be useful for a body corporate or a neighbourhood watch group that wants to broadcast information to members who choose to receive these messages.”

Well, it makes sense that people would be moving across to a platform which is tailor-made for the task at hand. We just hope everyone moves across before those all-important crime messages fall on deaf ears after being muted on WhatsApp…

Your friendly neighbours at OurHood

Join OurHood today!