"Nextdoor is a good way to communicate," said Philip Wayman, who lives in West Valley's Pioneer neighborhood. "We can address issues that are unique to our neighborhood."
West Valley has set up Nextdoor websites for 25 neighborhoods where residents can talk online about safety issues, community events, garage sales, lost pets, ways to make the neighborhood better and other topics. The discussion can be limited to neighborhood residents only or can include those living in surrounding neighborhoods.
The individual sites are password-protected and can be accessed only by residents, who must verify their locations and sign in with their real names. Among other verification methods, Nextdoor checks addresses through a credit-card billing number or home-phone number.
Nextdoor says it does not share information with any third parties and even West Valley administrators cannot see the websites, except for the one in their own neighborhood.
About 400 West Valley residents from 330 households have signed up on the free system, which was launched in October, according to Craig Thomas, the city's assistant director of neighborhood services.
Nextdoor, a privately held San Francisco-based company, describes itself as being "passionate about building stronger and safer neighborhoods." The company says more than 27,000 neighborhoods across all 50 states use the network.
In Utah, there are more than 200 Nextdoor sites in 48 cities. Local "neighborhood leads" help run the websites by organizing information and posting area-wide information.
Wayman, a neighborhood lead for the area around Pioneer Elementary School at 3860 S. 3380 West, said Nextdoor can work in conjunction with Neighborhood Watch to fight crime.
Last week, a neighbor sent out an alert that her car had been stolen and asked everyone to keep an eye out for it. And Wayman is preparing postings on the possibility of installing video surveillance in the neighborhood to reduce crime.
The network's reach makes it a helpful tool, he said.
"Nextdoor is good because we can communicate not only with our immediate neighbors but with people in surrounding neighborhoods," Wayman said. "It's a good program."
Want to join Nextdoor?
If you want to be part of the private social network, visit https://nextdoor.com/ to see if Nextdoor is available in your area. If a website has not been established for your neighborhood, you can apply to have one set up.