Neighbors who communicate well with each other and also with public sector emergency institutions are usually better prepared if and when a major crisis hits their community.
That’s why the Harris County Emergency Services District 48 Fire Department is teaming up with Nextdoor (www.nextdoor.com), the private social network for neighborhoods, to improve countywide and neighbor-to-neighbor communications. Led by ESD 48 Fire Chief Jeffrey Hevey, this integration with Nextdoor will enable the District to build a stronger, safer and more prepared community with direct input from the area’s residents. Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department has been using this platform since September of last year and has been impressed with the programs ability to interact and respond directly to citizen’s concerns.
“Joining Nextdoor is another way to further our efforts in making ESD 48 an even greater place to live,” said Chief Hevey. “Giving residents more avenues to easily and effectively connect with Emergency Services and each other about the things that matter most to their communities will create safer, stronger places to call home.”
Already, Nextdoor has proven to be an essential and well-adopted tool for Harris County residents. More than 55 neighborhoods, representing more than 86 percent of Harris County District 48, are using Nextdoor. With Nextdoor, Harris County residents can create private neighborhood websites to share and discuss information, including neighborhood emergency preparedness, public safety issues, community events and activities, local services and even lost pets.
The Harris County ESD 48 Fire Department will be able to post information, such as important breaking news, services, programs, free events and emergency and safety notifications to Nextdoor websites within our portion of the Katy area. In addition to this ongoing communication, the Nextdoor ‘Urgent Alert’ feature will allow them to quickly inform a neighborhood about a gas leak or other hazard that might require a ‘shelter in place’ request to be communicated quickly.
Nextdoor is free for residents as well as Law Enforcement and Emergency Service providers across the nation however Fire Department have only recently been able to join the agency platform. Houston Fire Department was the first adopter in our region followed by Cy-Fair VFD and now Harris County ESD 48 Fire Department. “We hope more agencies across the Houston area will follow our lead and see the benefits of having this kind of direct communication resource,” said Lt. Simon VanDyk.
Each Harris County neighborhood has its own private Nextdoor neighborhood website, accessible only to residents of that neighborhood. Neighborhoods establish and self-manage their own Nextdoor website and the Office of Emergency Management will not be able to access residents’ websites, contact information or content. All members must verify that they live within the neighborhood before joining Nextdoor.
Information shared on Nextdoor is password-protected and cannot be accessed by Google or other search engines. Those interested in joining their neighborhood’s Nextdoor website can visit www.nextdoor.com and enter their address. If residents have questions about their Nextdoor website, please visit help.nextdoor.com. If agencies have more questions they can find reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org which will be directed to the appropriate person for their region.
Check out the story that Fox 26 did on our launch.
Fox 26 News Story – (Video at top of page)