Clickscape is focused on utilizing technology that improves the home buying and selling process, but we also go gaga over tech tools that are useful after you've settled into your new place. Let us introduce you to Home Elephant. Weird name, but then again who thought to name a company Apple? An article in today's paper turned me on to the social media newcomer, so I thought I'd give it a try and report my findings to our loyal readers. This isn't your first time here, right?
First, a little background. Home Elephant was started up by a trio of guys in Atlanta, launched in April 2011, and now has users in 5,000 neighborhoods spread over 45 countries. Per their website, Home Elephant is "the world's first social media platform that allows for collaborative neighborhood organization through Facebook, a web browser, and/or your smartphone." Basically, it's a more advanced, more attractive version of the neighborhood e-mail blasts that have been around for years. But hey, if you're going to rely on the internet for neighborly interaction, it might as well be through something cooler than a regular e-mail blast.
So let's get to the nitty gritty. Access to Home Elephant is free and simple; you can sign up using either Facebook or your e-mail address. After this, enter your address and the Elephant pulls up a list of suggested neighborhoods for you to join. Here's where it gets a little tricky. My list of suggested neighborhoods gave me the option of joining either my specific complex OR the larger neighborhood in which it's located (for example, you can join Metropolis, which is a condo building, or Midtown, the section of Atlanta where it sits). In a second I'll explain what you get with each option.
If you don't see your building or neighborhood, you have the option of putting it into the system.
Once you're a member of the website, figuring it out isn't too difficult. In my opinion, the alert feature will probably be the most popular one. You have the option of receiving alerts via e-mail and/or text message, and they're categorized by crime report, neighborhood watch, notices, and lost and found (come back Fluffy!). Here's where it matters what specific location you chose.
If you picked your building or subdivision, you'll only receive alerts posted by neighbors in that same building or subdivision. Alerts posted by neighbors in the greater area will only go to those who only signed up for that area. According to the creators of the site, you'll eventually be able to set a radius for the alert area you desire, which I think will greatly enhance its usefulness. For now, you can look at the map to see what other alerts are going on around you.
Other features on Home Elephant include a neighborhood chat board and an events calendar. The neighborhood directory lets you confirm who's actually your neighbor, giving you the opportunity to interact with them. Summed up, it's like simpler, more streamlined Facebook with a hyper local/georgraphic slant.
Overall, Home Elephant looks to be a promising app for those who like to be in the know about their surroundings. It'll greatly improve as more and more people sign up, so seriously think about becoming a member. For now, I'm sending alerts to myself.