In an increasingly digital world, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful tool that can not only streamline processes but also promote kindness and foster engagement among neighbours in a community. With its ability to analyze vast amounts of data and make accurate predictions, AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact and connect with each other.
Christopher Doyle, Managing Director of Nextdoor Canada is a great advocate for “technology for good” and is particularly passionate about how tech and AI can help people and businesses create strong communities that support the people within them.
Techcouver sat down with Christopher to discuss how AI can be best used to foster cohesion and togetherness within communities in Canada while providing actionable, data-driven insights for small businesses to find success within their local ecosystems.
Artificial Intelligence has taken the world by storm and I think you’ll agree with me that you’d be hard pressed to get through a conversation about technology without talking about AI. Tell us a little bit about how Nextdoor is leveraging generative AI to build stronger connections and foster a sense of community.
CD: I think it’s first important to distinguish the difference between AI and generative AI. AI has been part of the Nextdoor DNA since its inception. We are a large data platform and we own the local knowledge network in each of the communities we serve.
In terms of generative AI, we have just launched an assistant for neighbours. If neighbours on Nextdoor are looking to make their posts more engaging and interactive, our new “Assistant” feature has been trained with our internal data, and linking back to an API through OpenAI, to suggest a post so that neighbours can achieve what they need to and communicate with each other and their communities more effectively. At the end of the day, Nextdoor is the neighborhood network for neighbours to connect with each other within their local communities. We are here to help neighbours thrive in their communities, to make meaningful connections with each other and to foster a greater sense of togetherness, and the AI capabilities on the app allow users to do this in a kinder and more respectful way.
The “Assistant” feature can suggest ways to make the content more engaging so that it helps you with your interactions and gets you the information you need effectively. Our aim is to create kinder neighbourhoods and this is how we help neighbours achieve that, while being mindful and respectful of all conversations on our platform.
AI has also become increasingly useful to the success of small businesses. How is Nextdoor using generative AI to support small businesses within communities across Canada?
CD: At Nextdoor, we know that when businesses thrive, neighborhoods thrive. Small businesses can be the local flower shop, a café / restaurant, or local DIY store – and everything in between. They often have less than 20 employees, and in the context of the current macro environment, are facing real challenges to keep their businesses going.
To help small businesses specifically, we’re beginning to leverage Gen AI to assist in page creation. It’s a really exciting area for us, as when you run a small business you have to wear many different hats, so making it easier for SMBs to create highly engaging ads quickly can really help them build their businesses. Essentially, this is an easy way we can help SMBs harness the power of gen ai without having to develop all the tools themselves.
Nextdoor owns the local knowledge graph, and we’ve built the only platform where you can find out what’s going on locally, and in real time. For businesses on Nextdoor, this is game-changing.
Additionally, one of my favourite parts of Nextdoor is the “Fave” feature – where you can highlight your favorite local busines.Neighbourhood Favourites and it is a way of bringing local businesses onto Nextdoor to show them what technology can do to help them reach their customers, share their unique messaging with their local communities, and grow sustainably. With the help of AI algorithms, Nextdoor can provide recommendations and support to small businesses on its platform, thereby increasing their presence, visibility, and growth. Our goal is to continue to invest in local communities as there is a global need to recreate social capital at a local level. We want to enhance community conversations and foster positive engagement among users. As someone who is an active member of his community in Whitby, I have seen firsthand the power of a thriving community where neighbours maintain strong connections.
How does Nextdoor see generative AI analyzing residents’ preferences and provide personalized recommendations to local businesses about their customers?
CD: Nextdoor is leveraging generative AI to strengthen human connection and help bring neighbors together.
With over 80M highly-engaged neighbors on Nextdoor today, Nextdoor owns the local knowledge graph, and we’ve built the only platform where you can find out what’s going on locally, and in real time.
We see so much potential and capabilities with generative AI on Nextdoor. Mainly, we want to make the user experience more engaging and meaningful.
Nextdoor can generate insights and recommendations for local businesses, helping them understand their customers better, but also using key words and posts to find where they are, too.
Using these AI-powered insights, our platform can also provide personalized recommendations to local businesses regarding their customers’ preferences, needs, and interests. This enables businesses to tailor their products and services to meet the specific demands of their target audience, enhancing customer satisfaction and driving growth. By harnessing the power of generative AI, we aim to revolutionize neighbourly conversations and create a more cohesive and thriving community environment.
What impact does personalized content have on increasing neighbour participation?
CD: I believe that when neighbours receive personalized recommendations about local businesses, events, or community initiatives that align with their specific interests, they would be more likely to actively participate and engage with those recommendations. I know I would! This personalized approach creates a sense of relevance and value, fostering a stronger connection between residents and their neighbourhood. As residents become more engaged with the personalized content, they are more likely to contribute, share their opinions, and participate in discussions and activities happening within their community. We want to foster this on the app and continue to encourage personalized experience and sharing. This increased neighbour participation leads to a vibrant and active community environment where residents feel empowered to connect, collaborate, and support each other.