Villiagize is a relatively new application that works in conjunction with Facebook to help a sense of community to real neighborhoods in the online wold. The creators of the platform found a way to make it easier to find it each other using the method communication they are already utilizing. Instead of going next for for that cup of sugar, hop on Villiagize and ask away. Need recommendations for a new dentist? Get suggestions from neighbors you don’t know yet. Who knows better than people in your area?
According to a the analytics firm StatCounter, mobile web usage has doubled every year since 2009. As more and more of our lives revolve around gadgets for communication, the creators of Villiagize intuitively built a way for people living in close proximity to connect more effectively while creating a sense of community.
The problem lies in the fact that since more people can be found easily online, some of them enjoy the ability to create a sense of anonymity in real life. The new platform imports information from your Facebook profile to enrich your Villiagize profile. While you can block the program from importing all of your information when it syncs, a profile is still available for you before you even log in for the first time unless you are totally off the grid or do not include your location information in your Facebook profile at all. You can delete your profile at any time, but rather than creating the profile from scratch when you sign up, you must opt out of the program entirely. If it’s in your profile or listed in a local phonebook, your address is available online where anyone can grab it.
While some could argue that phonebooks made it possible for anyone at any time to find phone number and address, there was a sense of security knowing that if someone really wanted your information, they would have to work for it. Now your home address is entirely searchable online AND linked to your online profiles accessible to all by the touch of a few key strokes.
While I think the concept is brilliant, I do have concerns about the security behind the methods of this website. There are also a few kinks they are working out as well.
For instance, when I first entered my address, I made an error on the street name. After searching for the bette part of 15 minutes to figure out how to change it, I contacted the the staff via the “Feedback” tab to get some answers. The staff responded quickly (unlike Facebook) — in less in 15 minutes. Kudos for great customer relations!! The repesentative said they were still working on revisions for the project, and there is a list of things they are working to implement in the future (i.e. my self-editing feature to correct address mistakes). He/she did offer to correct the address error manually earning them bonus points for great customer service.
Overall, Villiagize has great potential. It connects the link missing in communities which would allow citizens to communicate more effectively online. In the future, this outlet could take on a life of its own allowing for traffic reports, weather updates, emergency information and a vast array of other vital news instantaneously going beyond the commercial aspects included the program already.
Fortunatlely, the creators are willing to work with users to correct problems and make it safer and more user friendly. Give it a whirl, see what you think. At the worst, you can always opt out.