October 12, 2013
A UNIVERSITY researcher from Connells Point is leading a project that brings new meaning to the idea of “online neighbourhood”.
Dr Rainer Wasinger is behind Neighbourhood Networks, a new digital service developed by information technology researchers from the University of Sydney.
The start-up project is an online community noticeboard supported by the university union’s INCUBATE 2013 program. It is part of the university’s collaboration with the Smart Services Co-operative Research Centre.
It informs residents of different services in their area such as babysitting, dogwalkers and gardeners. Oatley was chosen as the Sydney suburb to trial the project.
Dr Wasinger said it was all about highlighting the “local” aspect. “The internet gives us global reach but has forgotten about our neighbourhood. We’ve been researching the concept of neighbourhood since 2010, and we looked at how people defined it, and how it related to online services,” he said.
The project was inspired by community noticeboards similar to those at supermarkets or libraries.
Dr Wasinger said consumers were more likely to act on information provided in a community newspaper or noticeboard compared with radio or billboards.
“People value community noticeboards because they are useful reference tools with practical information,” he said. “It’s about building one simple online tool for individual suburbs that will keep people interested in activities.
“We are trying to build a sense of cohesion to let people know what’s going on. Our vision is to take it further and make it a social media component.”
Oatley residents were invited to customise their noticeboard to their area.
Bryan Pirie of Oatley jumped on board. “It’s a wonderful idea that will work particularly well with young people,” he said. “They look at clutter on a wall and think it’s all too hard, but on the smartphone it’s just a click to promote it within the community.”
An information stall will be at the Oatley Village Festival on October 19.