Last week, Nextdoor co-founder and CEO Nirav Tolia joined FEMA Administrator Brock Long in Washington, D.C. to discuss the platform’s role as a critical tool for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
The seventh annual Building Resilience through Private-Public Partnerships (PPP) Conference convened thought leaders like Tolia from across government and business to develop best practices for a cross-sectoral approach to emergency management. Joined on stage by the CEOs of Ardent Mills and Siemens USA, Tolia was recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation for being a standout representative of “executives who emerged as leaders amidst widespread destruction” in the extreme storm season of 2017.
In his remarks, Tolia noted that, in times of crisis, “resilience is a natural function of your ability to know and communicate with your neighbors.” Neighbors often serve as critical first responders in the earliest days of any emergency. This was evident during Hurricane Harvey, when Nextdoor neighbors stepped in to offer medical expertise, rescue neighbors stranded by rising floodwaters, and deliver lifesaving medications. Often unable to contact 911, neighbors turned to Nextdoor. In the first few days of the storm, there was more than an 800% increase in posts, replies, and alerts, and members in Houston sent over 3,000 urgent alerts.
Not only did neighbors use Nextdoor to contact each other, they also used it to communicate with more than 120 public agencies in affected areas. In an outstanding example of private-public partnership, the Office of Emergency Management and Sheriff’s Office of Harris County used Nextdoor to share mandatory evacuation orders, flood maps and reservoir status updates with members across the region.
Tolia and FEMA Administrator Long stressed the importance of investing in both neighborhood-level social ties and larger private-public partnerships before disaster hits.
Tolia wrapped up the panel by acknowledging that “it’s an honor to build a technology tool that can literally save lives.”
We’re proud that public agencies and neighbors use Nextdoor to help each other stay safe during emergencies.