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Neighbourly: Ask Local Questions & Get Answers

Neighbourly: Ask Local Questions & Get Answers
July 5, 2018

Neighbourly: Ask Local Questions & Get Answers

Jul 05, 2018
Bhageerath Kommu
Bhageerath is an MBA graduate from University of Wales, UK. He is a passionate digital marketing trainer and a story writer.

There are things that we already know and then there are things we want to know more about. But do you know that there are people who are truly unaware of most things that happen around themselves and chances are you could be one of them. Trust me, with Google’s Neighbourly application you will learn that wonderful people make wonderful communities by sharing wonderful information. "Life is happening close to home for most people even as urbanization reshapes cities in India and countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa," says Josh Woodward, a group product manager with the Next Billion Users team. Across India we have big cities full of enthusiastic people who have useful information to share about their local area.

Simultaneously there exists a category of people who have unanswered questions about the place they have recently chosen to move to. In cities people continuously keep moving from place to place and find one that better suits their needs while leaving a wide gap for potential questions like best place for Recreational Activities, Sports or even queries related to skilled programs like Digital Marketing Course & Digital Marketing Training etc. How many times have you asked someone to help you find an address that you had no idea about? Sure you did it many times even if you do not want to admit it. So, Google is just trying to take this to next level with their latest program or let’s just call it “Neighbourly”. Unveiled in India this month i.e., June 2018, under Google’s Next Billion Users program, Neighbourly is a hyper-local social network which of course is a real-time app to answer questions like, which is the best school for kids in this area? Any vegetarian restaurants nearby? Digital Marketing institute nearby?

And all these queries are supposedly answered in English and 8 other local languages with no nonsense good morning or forward messages that you see every day on Whatsapp for instance. You can be a local expert and try to be a go to guy while keeping up with your neighbourhood.

Neighbourly - Screen Shot - 1

Neighbourly moves your questions instantly to the right neighbours and you get most recent, relevant and also accurate information that you were looking after. We need to understand that it will be a crowd-sourced recommendation platform that is believed to answer virtually anything.

Neighbourly Helps In:

1. Finding Absolutely Expert Local Answers Only

Ask a question or speak in to your app the way you would talk to your neighbour. This app uses Google’s speech recognition technology. As this app is available in eight Indian languages you can ask your neighbour a language in which you are most comfortable in and get the best possible answer. This app definitely uses social networking techniques that we are familiar with.

2. Sharing Advice Every Day

Search for questions that are relevant to you, where you can offer an advice or share answers that can help your community. Every single answer from you helps your needy neighbour find accurate and credible information. Advice more to get more recognition for your inputs, this way you can help back your neighbourhood to be better informed. Just like the way we see ratings of a driver or rider on Uber, on neighbourly too, people accumulate scores based on how their responses are ranked by users. In simple terms, just understand that you are up voted.

3. Staying In Touch With Local Community

To find questions that are relevant to you from which you can get local information you only need to swipe back and forth on your app. There’s a star icon that you will need to tap to follow a particular question that has information you might really care about and likewise, get the updates when a neighbour answers it. In fact, you can even share the best answers on social media with all your friends.

4. Connecting With Neighbours With Utmost Safety

You need not share your personal data like mobile or telephone numbers, full name and any other contact information. You can keep all these details in private while using the application. Even though your profile comes up with an image it is actually small, not possible to zoom in and also not downloadable too. All those, who are part of the community, can only see your first name and the question you ask or the answer you share. There’s absolutely no way you can directly message somebody. So the whole idea of this app is to strictly give or share information that is useful to your local community.

Neighbourly - Screen Shot - 1

Recent Incident To Support This App

A Mumbai train commuter who witnessed an accident earlier this month turned to his Smartphone to ask neighbours how to help a bleeding victim and immediately responses poured in. These are the few responses that he received: Take him to the station master at the next stop; ask the ticket collector for first aid; call 138 for emergency help and so on. The commuter posted a happy ending after a while. And the injured party had received medical attention. This particular incident transpired within minutes on Neighbourly like a wildfire.

Reasons Behind This Launch In India

Even though neighbourly comes up with Ask Local Questions & Get Answers approach there is something more to add to this idea. The India launch is part of Google's global expansion process. They recently invested $550 million in Chinese e-commerce giant Inc. and a smaller amount in India's Fynd, giving it the much needed online shopping foothold in the world's most populous nations. Next, Google is fine-tuning its social and messaging platforms where it had limited success with applications like Google+, Hangouts and Allo. Google always wanted to be the go-to platform in India. On one hand, Facebook Inc. and its extension Whatsapp messaging service already hold a huge user base and on the other hand Amazon Inc. is pumping billions on e-commerce looking to widen its reach further.

Google aims to bring the big Indian population online and create products of value at the same time that appeal to a diverse population without the barriers like social strata, language or even the type of devices used. In 2016, Google started offering free Wi-Fi in the country's largest train stations and has since expanded to over 400 locations. Mid last year they introduced new payment service called Google Tez and also the voice-powered Google Assistant is already available in eight Indian languages. Google failed multiple times in social networking but this looks very different as it is gradually getting the reach and response it needs. All the above discussion put together sums up to one simple thing i.e., compete aggressively with its rivals.

What Is Expected Moving Forward?

Experts believe that there exists a larger plan behind this platform. This new age social networking app could be a new gateway of ad revenues for Google where they are sure to sell targeted local ads and also learn while collecting more information about the user liking or tastes. Further Google could be looking at the potential expansion of its reach in areas like — payments, social networking and one stop shop for search. Moreover they can challenge Facebook and Whatsapp in India for sure with some aggressive goals already in place. "After missing the last wave of social, Google is trying to use its platform to become a significant player in these areas," says New Delhi-based Forrester Research forecast analyst, Satish Meena.

To conclude, let me tell you that we are in an era of trolling, privacy concerns and fake news, the Neighbourly app, two years in the making, could help Google take on Facebook and Whatsapp and this seems to be the right time to launch and also gain a loyal user base. After what we have seen in news about Facebook with connection to Cambridge Analytica it seems a certainty for neighbourly to have a huge success. Caesar Sengupta, who runs the Next Billion Users initiative, said at the app's unveiling that it would help people get precise information without participating in group chats that "keep getting bigger and noisier," Neighbourly is very much a human that is helpful and possibly the best local way to put up a question and get answers.

Don’t you think you can make your neighbourhood better, together with such an interface available to all of us? This application is currently open only in Mumbai. People are eagerly waiting for this to operate in full and very soon it will be available for everyone to use. Currently there are over a 100,000 downloads on Google play. This app runs on Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and higher, which makes it easier for people who currently own a cheaper Smartphone who could also be a potential neighbour with a lot of information to share in his/her neighbourhood.

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