The dream for most start-ups is to get backing from the 800 pound gorilla that is local government. It's sticky and usually entails people on the ground endorsing regular usage of your produce.
Thanks to Marin County, that's exactly what Nextdoor has received for its Neighbourhood websites business: http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_26078677/marin-county-turns-popular-neighborhood-network-nextdoor
What's really interesting about Nextdoor is their focus on security. Fear is, by most accounts, the most powerful motivator. Much of the service revolves around knowing what could threaten the peace and security of your neighbourhood. It reminds me of a phrase from Harry Potter: "Constant Vigilance".
Once they have people on the site, Nextdoor is surprisingly sticky. There's a lot of useful and interesting news and data.
The usage of the sites as broadcast mechanisms for local services and government seems like a smart place to start. It would be mighty impressive if there is a 'bottom up' movement of engaged locals perpetuating visits to the site and filling them with valuable local tidbits.
The United States knows a lot more about the power and importance of community than most Western countries. In the UK, it's almost seen as rude to impose on your neighbour. You certainly are frowned at for talking on Public Transport (when people are out and about and likely to interact).
If these sites become simple and 'mobile friendly' there's a real case for something like this in Middle Eastern and Northern African states, where people (including youngsters) gather in town squares every evening. They talk to each other too. Would such technology bring people together, or give them reason to think they're closer together through the screen?
Read more here: http://www.latimes.com/home/la-hm-nextdoor-20140628-story.html