New findings suggest residents in Australia's most populous cities are the least likely to be involved in, or communicate with, their local communities.
The finding comes from Nabo, Australia's first major social media platform designed to help individuals and community organisations to instantly and directly connect online with others in their suburb.
Nabo has reviewed the activity of members in five major cities on its network since launching in December 2014. They monitored how often members were communicating with others, what types of groups and projects they formed and joined, and what they sought in their local area.
The findings highlight the cities where Australians are the least active in their communities, and – surprisingly - it's Sydneysiders and Melbournians that seem to be the least motivated.
Perth residents, however, are leading the way when it comes to interaction in their community with more active members on Nabo than in any other State. They are followed by Brisbane then Adelaide.
Nabo Founder and CEO Adam Rigby said: "A great local community is built on the action taken by its residents. It's the people that socialise with their neighbour over the garden fence or those that influence groups, local initiatives and projects that make a suburb a sought-after place to live."
Adam adds: "These findings are exciting as, potentially for the first time we've taken the social behaviours of Australians in their local habitat and captured them in one centralised portal, highlighting the locations where communities are getting it right."
The most popular types of conversations within communities, in order, are (after general comments) local recommendations, items for sale, crime and safety, free-to-home, traffic and transport updates, lost and found, and jobs.
Suggesting that it's women who are the most passionate about making changes on the ground, and are most likely to seek the support of others in their suburb, the findings show that it's females who make up the majority of Australians (66%) who create community groups and initiatives in their local community.
When it comes to age, 55-64 year olds are most likely to engage with others in their community on Nabo while 18-24 year olds are the least likely.
Adam adds: "By combining community activity with social media, we hope that younger generations will show more interest at a local level. This will hopefully ripple through the community."
Question: What is Nabo?
Adam Rigby: Nabo is the online home for your suburb – a new social network where you and your neighbours can keep in touch, share trusted recommendations and help each other out.
It is the easiest way to get to know your neighbours and become a part of your community, whether it is to share recommendations, buy, sell and give away items for free, or simply just stay in touch with what's happening in your neighbourhood. And it's free!
Question: Can you tell us how Nabo works? How can we sign up to Nabo?
Adam Rigby: Imagine a social network where you interact with other individuals or groups that live in your suburb only, therefore all content is tailored directly to you. That's exactly how Nabo works. When you sign up, you provide your address which is then verified by Nabo. Once done, you're able to begin posting and chatting with others.
Community groups and government agencies such as local Councils and emergency services also join Nabo to share information about the things that matter in your suburb.
Joining Nabo is easy: residents just enter the suburb name and complete their details to receive 30 days' access to Nabo before needing to verify their address.
They can quickly join in the conversation, learn about local events and issues and connect with people within their suburb.
Question: What inspired you to create Nabo? What did you find when researching for Nabo?
Adam Rigby: Research showed more than 50% of Australians are not connected with their neighbours beyond a chat over the fence, more than 80% know of no community initiatives that could connect them with others in their suburb, and more than 50% believe no adequate initiatives exist. Less than 30% are connected with their neighbours by phone number or email.
Also, a similar community-based social network in the United States has so far engaged more than 45,000 US neighbourhoods and partnered with local Police – reducing crime by 10 per cent in one city alone, according to police. Nabo is modelled on this network.
Question: What do you hope to achieve with Nabo? What's next for Nabo?
Adam Rigby: We aim to reach a million users by the end of 2015, as well as to have 60 councils and 6,000 local community groups on board, encouraging them to share and interact in their community online.
Question: What types of topics and communication features on Nabo?
Adam Rigby: Everything from recommendations on where to find a good coffee or babysitter, to traffic updates, local initiatives and projects.
Question: Can users keep their information safe and private on Nabo?
Adam Rigby: On Nabo, members and their neighbours can create private, secure and free communities online for their suburb. Members connect with others in their suburb only, names and addresses are confirmed as authentic, and members can tailor their privacy settings.
Interview by Brooke Hunter