Raz Schwartz Ph.D.

Senior Insights Manager
Innovation Product Area Lead @ Spotify

DeHood – The Neighborhood Strikes Back

Earlier Today I read on RWW about DeHood, a new location based social application that is trying to change the way we interact with our neighbors.

DeHood was the idea of Babak Hedayati, a former founder and employee of several start-ups, that decided to create “a social networking company for the good of local community.” According to his statement on the about section of DeHood website, his motivation to create the application started when he was on the road away from home and missed his friends, family and the places where he loved meeting them. This has led him to develop an application that help him and his friends keep in touch and socialize more often. As Hedayati puts it:

The more I focused on what was going on in my local area, the more I realized that my neighbors were focused on similar things – whether it be trying to organize a street party or a pot luck, or an informal email list that had been started to tip people off about reported crimes or suspicious activities – I decided to build something to facilitate such activities and bring together all these efforts and energies and help focus them in one place. Initially, the goal was to make the neighborhood safer, cleaner, greener, and overall a better experience for all.

So I decided to give it a go and although I knew it was only the first day since the launch of the app and I will probably be among the first users, I still was curious to see what are the options that this new application has to offer to local interactions in neighborhoods.

After I downloaded, installed and played with it for some time I can say that  all in all DeHood is very interesting step in the already booming trend of location based social applications. As it seems, the idea behind the application was to consolidate in one application several hot virtual networking tools. The application has a timeline that shows the Buzz in the neighborhood (although it doesn’t state its name).  The Buzz displays everything that is going on around which includes:

  • Shouts – A Twitter like option to write whatever people want in 140 chars
  • Reports – Allow local news and events reporting
  • Check-ins- A Foursquare/GoWalla option to check in at a local place of interest and get points/titles such as King/Queen (did someone say mayor?)
  • Photos – Local user submitted pictures gallery
  • Deals – Get local deals or locate local branches of known brands

And that’s in addition to the ability to post all updates directly to Twitter and Facebook.

Another aspect to the app is a Facebook/Twitter like Friends/Followers. Apparently you can see user profiles of people around you, add them as friends and also follow them. I didn’t really understand what’s the difference between friending and following someone but I guess when I will have my first friend I will get it.

DeHood video demo:

DeHood is an ambitious effort to try and make the most of all the social tools that are around together with location based services. The big question is if putting all these tools together in one application will be a successful idea. Will people utilize the wide range of Facebook/Twitter/Foursquare/GoWalla/Yelp like tools or will they prefer to stick to all of this services in separate forms?

Another and maybe more important question that rises is the question of local flavors and the feeling of community.  It seems like the application was built to supply the needs and activities of a generic kind of neighborhoods but by doing so, it lost the feeling of it. In other words, what I miss most about the application is the understanding that every local group has its on color/flavor and origins that can’t be ignored when trying to produce an online-local interaction within it. I am sure that many people buy their food and clothes at big brands branches but these branches are the furthest thing I see close to a neighborhood and although the app does allow a local report of deals, I think that a more comprehensive effort to supply not only local businesses but also local Ad-Hoc groups be they political, cultural etc., might produce a better feeling of community.