South African digital platform for neighbourhoods OurHood has announced it is now live in over 1,000 neighbourhoods across the country, allowing neighbours to connect in real-time.
Disrupt Africa reported in March OurHood, which launched in May last year to provide private local neighbourhood networks, had launched its app after a second funding round took its total raised capital to ZAR2.5 million (US$200,000).
The startup is planning expansion into other African countries and elsewhere, but has said it has seen impressive traction in its home market, with more than 1,000 South African neighbourhoods now using the OurHood website and app to share information on everything from crime to lost pets.
Co-founder and managing director (MD) Bruce Good said the success of the platform thus far could be put down to the fact people were previously too reliant on unsatisfactory services such as WhatsApp and Facebook.
“Before OurHood, there was nowhere for neighbours to safely connect in real time. If, for instance, someone wanted to ask an urgent question about neighbourhood security, load shedding, or advice on a good local plumber, there was no place to do it. OurHood has changed that by providing a private website for neighbourhoods,” he said.
Good said communities were leaving behind services such as Facebook groups, where users are not verified and are inundated with adverts, and WhatsApp groups, which he said are “massively inefficient” with constant alerts that “drive users to distraction”.
OurHood – which has clear sections to organise the conversations such as a notice board, a marketplace, and crime alerts – requires each user to verify that they live in the relevant neighbourhood by uploading a utility bill during the quick registration process.
“Neighbourhoods provide a sense of space, belonging and identity because where we live gives shape and expression to who we are. The response from South African citizens has been staggering – and speaks to how crucial a site like this is in building social cohesion and promoting safety,” Good said.