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Nextdoor adds features to help neighbors during the coronavirus crisis

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Help shop for groceries or just check in on your at-risk neighbors

You can mark yourself as available to offer help, after which you’ll appear on the map.
Image: NextDoor

Nextdoor, the social networking app designed around local communities, is launching a new interactive map to let neighbors offer help to one another during the novel coronavirus outbreak. Called Help Map, the tool lets you mark yourself as available to help with anything from grocery shopping to child care. It will be available in the US starting today and will come to international markets later this week. The company also says it’s bringing its Groups feature out of beta globally to let neighbors organize during the crisis.

Once you add yourself to the Help Map, your name, home location, and profile picture will be displayed to your local community, and you can list the ways in which you’re able to assist your neighbors. Members will then have the ability to message you on the platform if they’re in need of help. It’s a thoughtful feature for the social network to include, especially since different groups are at wildly different levels of risk from the virus.

Anyone offering help to at-risk neighbors needs to make sure they’re following the advice of health authorities like the WHO or CDC, however. Make sure you’re washing your hands regularly and maintaining a personal separation of six feet to minimize the risk to your community. If you’ve had any flu-like symptoms, then the most helpful thing you can do for your at-risk neighbors is to self-isolate, rather than risk passing on your infection.

Meanwhile, the social network’s new Groups feature is also coming out of beta. Groups have been a part of Nextdoor for a while, but the new version allows you to create groups with people that are farther afield, rather than limiting you to your immediate neighbors. Nextdoor says it has seen more groups being created recently as people deal with the realities of social-distancing. The company gives the example of people creating groups to manage child care during coronavirus-related school closures, or using hobbies like baking to while away the hours spent at home. The service plans to encourage the creation of groups by prompting users to create them out of active conversation threads.

Nextdoor is one of many tech companies helping people cope with the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Google, for example, plans to launch a new website to provide information on the outbreak later this week, while Microsoft’s Bing team has made an interactive map to track the number of cases worldwide. Elsewhere, film studios like Disney and Universal Pictures are changing their release schedules to make their films available to stream early during the pandemic.