AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department and Nextdoor are joining forces to poll Austinites, in the first partnership of its kind.
Police Chief Art Acevedo says it will help APD better understand people’s concerns.
Nextdoor is a website where people can connect with their neighbors. The site requires an address to be verified before an account is created. Nearly 100,000 people in about 550 Austin neighborhoods use Nextdoor. Only about three dozen neighborhoods do not.
After a soft launch Friday, Police Chief Art Acevedo says in three days, people in 70 percent of Austin neighborhoods responded. The results show 87 percent of people feel safe, 13 percent do not.
Acevedo says the polling partnership will help APD keep a better pulse on the feelings of the community without having to spend money. “That is something that would be very costly if we wanted to do surveying any other way and thanks to Nextdoor, we’ll be able to survey our community… free,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo touts Austin’s ranking as one of the safest in the nation and says having technologically savvy citizens helps keep the city safe.
“I am convinced that one of the reasons we are one of the safest cities in the nation is that we have a community that is engaged, it’s involved and most importantly it’s tech savvy and willing to utilize technology to create a virtual neighborhood watch,” Acevedo said.
Robbie Turner, a city strategist with Nextdoor, says Austin police began using Nextdoor in 2013.
Turner also says Austin is the first police department to use the polling feature. Lessons learned from Austin’s implementation will be used when the program rolls out to a larger audience.
While the feature gives APD the ability to poll neighborhoods, the department will not be able to see neighborhood pages, they will only be able to view posts sent to them. “This tool will only be as effective as the community we serve,” Acevedo said. “We know that Austinites want the very best in everything whether it’s public schools, or policing, or roads, or whatever, we are a community that wants the best of the best and this will work as well as the community makes it work.”