Global Pandemic Prompts Nextdoor To Launch Groups, Help Map

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Neighborhood-centric social networking app Nextdoor is getting two new features dubbed Nextdoor Groups and Help Map starting this week, recent reports say. The tools are primarily intended to aid users in creating localized groups as well as assisting other users when that's needed.

In part, the launch of the features is linked to the ongoing spread of coronavirus. The Nextdoor Groups feature has already been in place in some regions prior to the announcement but will now be available globally.

That's because the number of groups created since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak has been growing. In fact, it's doubled every day over the past week. Nextdoor indicates that one of the most popular group types right now are those that are designated for organizing volunteers.

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Groups here work similarly to Facebook's identically-named feature. They serve as a central virtual gathering place and a way to share posts, updates, and news. They also serve as a discussion and announcement forum for get-togethers and localized events. Users can create a group directly from any active conversation thread. Nextdoor will prompt users to make the transition at the click of a button.

What do Nextdoor Groups and Help Map have to do with coronavirus?

Beyond the usefulness of the new tools in day-to-day life, Nextdoor says its Groups and Help Map should prove particularly useful right now.

More directly, it says that it found inspiration in the global response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The goal, Nextdoor says, is to help users stay connected to each other. But more than that, the features should help as users begin to isolate in order to slow the virus's spread. Especially when it comes to finding or providing help for others.

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To that end, while the above-mentioned Groups feature will undoubtedly aid users who want to respond proactively, Help Map will go much further. That's because Help Map is an interactive map of a user's neighborhood that can essentially be marked up.

The company goes on to describe the feature as a tool for creating a "screenshot" of the neighborhood but also of its resources. That's because, according to Nextdoor, users can mark themselves so that neighbors know who can 'pitch-in'. Users can add themselves to the map. Then they can mark themselves up with an outline of any errands or other help they can provide for their neighbors.

Other users can then view the map directly in-app if they happen to need assistance. For example, they might request help obtaining groceries if they're under self-quarantine.

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Where and when is this rolling out

As noted above, the Nextdoor Group feature has already been available but will now be available worldwide. So, as long as Nextdoor is available to download and use in a given region, Groups should be too. But Help Map is an entirely new feature.

That means that Help Map will be a bit slower to reach everybody. It's already rolled out in the US as of Wednesday. Over the course of the next week, Nextdoor expects the feature to become available internationally — helping the app hold its position among the best social networking apps around.