Until fairly recently it was not uncommon for new members of a community to bake muffins or a pie to introduce themselves to their new neighbors. Today, people have more robust digital social networks and are less likely to engage in these types of activities. Some organizations are attempting to translate these activities to the online world. Front Porch Forum a startup in Burlington, Vermont is trying to make a safe space for neighbors to discuss the nuts and bolts of their community. People must identify their full names and streets — helping build networks of trust. Neighbors post and discuss issues related to their communities. The platform serves as a source of information — ever critical with declining local papers and coverage. The ultimate goal is to get people out of the house by creating a feedback loop inspiring in-person activity.
In Burlington there are more than 15,000 users (out of 16,000 households) with some households having more than one account, as discussed on TechPresident. Front Porch is expanding to other cities. These types of platforms have the ability to use local data to create stronger, more resilient communities. Citizens provide and receive data from their neighbors, which, in turn, can improve the overall quality of life.