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OurHood is a free, secure, private social network for neighbourhoods. It seeks to promote safer, better connected and more efficient neighbourhoods.

It provides a platform for residents in clearly-defined neighbourhoods to discuss issues which matter in their streets, homes and local community.

OurHood will consolidate the number of conversations that take place daily on various sites dedicated to local content. These websites include the likes of Neighbourhood Watch groups, City Improvement Districts, Facebook groups, Whatsapp, email, SMS and other grouping platforms.

There is no single, consistent digital, or offline platform for residents to use to connect with their neighbours in South Africa, or universally, at present. The past few years have seen a proliferation of stand-alone community or local neighbourhood sites, yet none are scalable, private and able to offer a one-stop solution to neighbourhood communication.

The OurHood team has invested in brilliant technology to enable individual users to join their own neighbourhoods on the platform. Once new neighbourhood groups have been created, the look and feel will resemble all of the other neighbourhood websites that have been established. The development will ensure that the product offers a great user experience, while being practical at the same time.

The OurHood website has different sections in which neighbourhood conversations and posts can be grouped. These include:

  • Noticeboard: Residents can share information or notices – a digital community notice board discussing anything from nanny advice, to lost and found pets;
  • Tradepost: dedicated to sharing, buying and selling items amongst neighbours;
  • Crime: users can post about a crime and all users in their neighbourhood receive an SMS and email alert (if they wish);
  • Local deals: source special offers and deals targeted to the specific neighbourhood
  • Numbers: bespoke per neighbourhood, including useful and emergency one-touch-dial numbers (in app feature);
  • Events: you can see all the events published by your neighbours. From braais to parkruns, you can share your event!

OurHood creates a single user-friendly, dynamic platform for multiple residents to communicate with each other simultaneously. This has myriad benefits, including:

  • Connecting neighbours in safe, dynamic groups. This kind of connection means a tighter neighbourhood that is better placed to reduce crime, share goods and ideas, and engage with neighbours.
  • Providing an immediate platform to report and review criminal activity to a network of like-minded, interested parties with a vested interest in safeguarding the area.
  • Accessing a trusted local community of residents united behind a common goal to make their neighbourhood safer and happier.
  • Improving the property value of a neighbourhood.
  • Introducing new groups of individuals with similar interests in the neighbourhood via a dynamic new web and mobile-friendly platform, and offline events.
  • Offering local discounts and services as a way of both securing better deals, whilst supporting local businesses.
  • Providing an immediate audience of relevant people to third parties, including Local Government, national government and stakeholders.
  • Providing invaluable data intelligence on highly localized and targeted areas.

Access to each neighbourhood network is limited to people who reside within the borders of the neighbourhood. Residents will be required to provide proof of their address before being granted access to the site and only then can they contribute to the discussions and posts.

OurHood is for residents and neighbours who have a common interest in improving the areas in which they live. It is thus imperative that only residents are able to post to the site. Hence we require that each user’s address is verified.

Our sign-up process is very intuitive and straightforward. It consists of 3 easy steps that will require you to input some data. Please be aware that we will never share your personal information. You can read our privacy policy here.

Step 1: Address and hood matching

You will be required to insert your address in a box. The box will autofill, geo-locating into your hood through Google Maps. Please check the map below the box and make sure that your address is correctly indicated on the map. Otherwise, click on the exact map point. You will then be placed inside one of our neighbourhoods sites. In case “Address not found” is displayed, please see below.

What if my Address has not been found?

No worries. You can simply mail [email protected] with your address and a member of our team will get you set up!

Step 2: basic info

Those are quite basic information that will be used by the other neighbours to recognize you. Mobile phone number is optional: this is only to receive SMS in case of crime alerts. If you want to receive them, make sure to insert your phone number! Remember that you will be able to de-activate this setting also through your setting in your profile.

Step 3: verification of the address

You will need to verify that you are actually living in that address through some methods. Please see below for a comprehensive list of methods.

As soon as you have finished the 3 steps, you will see a “Thank you” screen. Feel free to surf across the available sections or our blog while our team is verifying you. You will have granted access as “Unverified users”.

Accessing as unverified user

You will have access to the platform as an unverified user when you first sign in – if you have not been verified yet. You will see you can have access only to certain sections: those are local deals, lifestyle, important numbers and Civic Association. If you think that your verification is taking too long or if you want to change method of verification, follow the instruction in the home page.

How can I verify that I live in a particular neighbourhood?

Authentication can be approved using any of the following methods:

Utility Bill

On the Step 3 of the Sign-up process, you will be able to upload your utility bill. It will work as a proof of address, hence it must be readable and it must state your name and your address under a letterhead. Once uploaded, our team will verify the exact address and in no time at all you will be inside your hood.

What can I use as utility bill?

We accept a range of documents classifieds under utility bill:

  • Water, gas, electricity, internet, phone utility bill
  • Bank statements or bank proof of address,
  • Rental agreements

If you do not have any of those documents, read about other signup methods below or simply email us at [email protected].

What if my utility bill is rejected?

No worries! You will receive an email that will tell you that for some reason your utility bill is rejected. You will be able to follow the link to upload another one. Usually, causes of rejection are:

  • Poor quality of the image;
  • Utility bill not completely uploaded;
  • Missing address and / or name.

If you do not have any of those documents, read about other signup methods below or simply email us at [email protected].

Postcards

You can select the option to receive a postcard. When you select this option a unique 5 characters code will be sent to you by postcard. Please be aware that we are relying on the Post Office system, hence we do not guarantee the arrival of the postcard. However we will try our best to get your postcard delivered. Note that it may take up to 6 working days.

What should I do when I receive my postcard?

You will see a 5 characters code. Please click here to go to the sign-up page and input your code together with your email. Then you will be able to select also your password and complete the registration.

What should I do if I do not receive a postcard?

You can simply mail [email protected] and we will try to help you as soon as possible.

Email verification

You are quite popular in the hood and some of your neighbours have already been verified into your OurHood? This is your tool so! Type into two of your fellow verified neighbours emails and they will be notified via email to enter OurHood. They will see in the notification panel that you requested them to verify you.

Pre-verified e-mail

This is a special type of verification. We are actually pre-verifying users because of other people with predominant roles in our platforms (e.g. Mayors) have already guaranteed for them. In some cases and during some special times, you will also be able to invite some users directly from the OurHood platform.

How does it work with a pre-verified email?

You will receive an email stating that you are quite special. Indeed you are! Somebody important knows you and trusts you, so you will be able to enter our platform directly without any verification barrier. You will just have to click on the link you received (if it doesn’t work you have to copy the URL and post into the web browser) and you will be redirected to our sign-up process.

Of course! We have a responsive web design that allows our site to be useful and visible on all the devices, from Notebooks to smartphones. Moreover we have also launched the OurHood app, available for Android and for iOS.

As soon as you enter our platform for the first time, you will be requested to you to read and accept our Terms & Conditions. When you are done with that, you will see on the left column the different categories explained above. Go through them to explore the website and then, what are you waiting for? Say “Hi” to your neighbours!

How to post something

At the top of your neighbourhood page there is a white box with the writing “Click here to post a message, event or crime alert” – click inside that box in order to choose a category in which you would like to post. Select the suitable category and it will open up the necessary fields where you can write the subject, body and add a link if you would like. When you are done, simply click the “POST” button to submit this post.

How to post an image?

At the top of your neighbourhood page there is a white box with the writing “Click here to post a message, event or crime alert” – click inside that box in order to choose a category in which you would like to post. Select the suitable category and it will open up the necessary fields. At the botton there is an “ADD IMAGE” button – select this option and choose the image you would like to post.

How to report a post?

At the top right of each post, next to where the date is displayed, there is a grey settings wheel. When you click on this wheel a drop down options menu will open with some options. To report an inappropriate post, click this wheel on the post you would like to report and select the “Flag as inappropriate” option.

What’s happening when I post a Crime?

When posting a crime update, please remember that each neighbour inside your neighbourhood site will automatically be sent an SMS and Email notification according to their preferences, to inform them of this post.

My Neighbours

You can view all the neighbours in your hood. To do this just select the “My Neighbours” option on the botton left of your neighbourhood page, under the NB Numbers tab.

Settings

By clicking on your profile (or on the small gear on the top right of the app), you will be able to access to the settings tab, which is including:

  • Newsletter settings: which kind of newsletter do you want to receive and how often
  • Email alert settings: when something important will happen in your neighbourhood you will receive an email in real time (e.g. crime);
  • SMS settings: when something important will happen in your neighbourhood you will receive a SMS in real time (e.g. crime);
  • Privacy settings: what you want to be visible to the other neighbours.
  • Notifications settings (in-app feature only): you can decide to switch between SMS and Push notifications. We recommend push notifications, because they are linked to the app!

Who are the Mayors? OurHood Mayors are the first users, the people who are more motivated to use OurHood and the people who want to make their neighbourhood a better place. Are you really involved in your neighbourhood? Drop us a line at [email protected]!

What is their role?

Mayors have a major role inside a neighbourhood. They are the reference point for the other neighbours and they can help the community by spreading important messages and moderating the portal.

What can they do?

Mayors are able to help their neighbours gain access, comprehend and start using the platform. In addition, they are the person who keeps the platform running smoothly by organizing information and posting important neighbourhood news and facts.

Essentially, the “Mayor of OurHood” can:

  • Provide us with a list of emails of people that they know are living in your hood, so that we can preverify them directly.
  • Keep in touch with our Customer Service in case there is need to change boundaries/include Civic Associations, Ward Councillors etc;
  • Remove and report any inappropriate messages across the forum;
  • Report inappropriate users;
  • Promote other neighbours to the Mayors status;
  • Take a leadership role in calming hood disputes;
  • Stay in direct contact with our Customer Relationship Manager who will provide help every time there is the need to build a stronger and safer community.
How can I become a Mayor?

In order to become an OurHood Mayors, you will have different possibilities:

  • The founding member of an OurHood website will automatically be given the Mayors status as soon as he/she accepts to start populating it;
  • The most active members will be contacted directly by OurHood staff in order to be granted the Mayor status;
  • Existing Mayors can recommend other people to be added as a Mayors.

If you have any recommendations about any user who should be a Mayor, please email [email protected] including the name, the email, the neighbourhood you belong to and the reason why you think that user should be a Mayor.

How can I lose my Mayors status?

Mayors could be removed from their status because of different reasons:

  • They no longer live in the neighbourhood;
  • They have been inactive for more than 45 days;
  • They have unsubscribed from OurHood;
  • They are acting against our Guidelines, their behaviour has been reported as inappropriate by other neighbours to our Customer Service or they have abused of their powers.

If you believe that some Mayors are acting inappropriately, please report it to [email protected] together with the motivation and if possible, some screenshots of their messages. We will monitor them and we will enquire for explanations.

How can I contact them?

You will see the Mayors’ profiles in the “My Neighbours” section. The first row will be dedicated to the Mayors and separated from the other users.

Therefore you will be able to contact them via Direct Message inside the platform.

Are you an Association (public or private) that is willing to directly interact with your neighbours and you are aiming to create a smarter and safer environment? OurHood welcomes you! We will provide you with a preferred channel to connect with your audience, as citizens can report important issues directly in a trusted environment, creating a much closer and collaborative relationship among them. You can download the Civic Association guide from here. You can just drop a line to [email protected] and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible!