A recent attempted sexual assault has residents in University City on high alert, and some are turning to a smartphone app and website that serves as a virtual neighborhood watch to keep them informed.
The app is called NextDoor. It serves as a private social network for neighbors and a community.
Barbara Gellman, a University City resident, used NextDoor.com to read a post about the attempted sexual assault in Marian Bear Park, just blocks from her home.
“Just because one thing happens here another thing might happen in Clairemont or La Jolla or Bay Ho,” said Gellman.
She uses her phone app to connect with other residents and share information about what’s happening in their neighborhood.
San Diego Police officers have been using the website for the past year to not only keep residents posted about crime in their community, but also to connect with residents by opening a two-way form of communication.
“Maybe I might know something about it, maybe I don’t, but at least I know that the incident happened,” said Gellman’s neighbor Diane Ahern, who also uses the app.
From classifieds to crime, the site acts like a private Facebook page for people living in the same community.
The website verifies that a person actually lives in the area before he or she can join.
“It just makes us all aware that we are the eyes and the ears of our police department,” said Ahern.
The SDPD said so far, more than 25,000 residents in the City of San Diego have signed up for the app.
Although officials encourage people to use it, they say it should never replace 911.