Translated title: Digitally linked and locally connected? The potential of neighbourhood platforms for social cohesion and participation - a lab report
Digitalisation offers new possibilities for communication and networking and is increasingly gaining importance for social cohesion in neighbourhoods. Recently, a diverse range of neighbourhood platforms and groups that digitally connect people in their neighbourhoods and seek to bring them together on the spot has been growing in Germany. However, little is known about the impact of these platforms so far. The research project “Connected Neighbours” (Vernetzte Nachbarn in German) run by the Federal Association of Housing and City Development (VHW) seeks to bridge this knowledge gap.
First results indicate digital neighbourhood platforms in Germany are increasing in popularity: the biggest platform nebenan.de has more than half a million active users alone. In addition, these neighbourhood-oriented digital media play a role in socio-economically highly diverse neighbourhoods. They are especially used in big cities, where they seek to counteract the process of anonymisation in urban environments. However, neighbourhood platforms are also increasingly being tested in rural areas with poor infrastructure. Common uses are primarily related to the sharing economy and for communal activities.
Four case studies on digital neighbourhood platforms are currently underway in Germany: big city neighbourhoods Berlin-Wedding and Munich-Neuperlach and smaller city neighbourhoods in Meissen and Paderborn-Elsen have been chosen to illustrate the diversity of this phenomenon.