Having recently moved to a new area of New Delhi, I am familiarizing myself with everything around me and trying to get the general vibe of what’s going on around my local area.
User-generated content has been quite useful in this regard. I’m somewhat surprised (although I shouldn’t be) with the volume and frequency of locally-related updates on Twitter and the lack of services to curate these in a meaningful manner. I have made “Defence Colony” a saved search on Twitter and check into that once a day in the morning. It’s been quite useful. I see a fair amount of posts related to local photos, crime reports, road traffic, weather, sales/deals, job openings, vendor/restaurant reviews, events etc.
While each of these categories has been targeted through stand-alone apps, many of which have uncapped upside in large corresponding markets i.e. local traffic/navigation only from Mapmyindia/Inrix/Waze or local services through TaskRabbit (a Lightspeed portfolio company) or local reviews through Zomato/Yelp, I haven’t seen the aggregate woven together in a compelling manner.
So I’m looking, as an end-user, for any small utility that weaves this togther. IMO, if a hyperlocal mobile (or web) app can classify these real-time local posts into these separate categories, roll-up the last 24 hours of posts in each category and then let me browse them at will or perhaps even subscribe to specific content as mobile notifications, that could be a useful and engaging service (perhaps notifications with geofencing as per a post I did last year on ‘Why geofencing & opt-in notifications could save Foursquare’). Local content would be drawn not only from Twitter but also from Facebook, (perhaps) LinkedIn, Foursquare, Gupshup and other mobile local services with APIs, using aggregation services such as Gnip.
Caveat: I haven’t seen this sort of service yet but I’ve learnt to be skeptical about my own ideas as there are invariably several other people who’ve been thinking far more deeply about these problems and have already gone out and solved them. So please tell me where you’ve seen what I have described – I’m interested as an end-user.
Here’s a sample screenshot for a local search on the phrase ‘Defence Colony.’ You can see posts around restaurants/deals and local photos:
There is a depth-of-content difference between what I see here in Delhi versus what I saw in San Francisco – however, it’s not that different. This local content is available in most of the big metros of the world today and increasingly in suburban and rural areas.
There is a disambiguation problem that needs to be solved. For example, Defence Colony is a neighborhood not only in New Delhi but also in Bangalore and Lahore, as you can see in the screenshot below. Perhaps can be used to disambiguate. There is also disambiguation that needs to be done between content categories (crime versus sales/deals versus job openings).
So what’s available today? You can of course use Twitter search using the modifier ‘nearby:’. There are several tweet curation services like Sulia that could provide local Twitter feeds on a whitelabel basis. There are also local Twitter feeds like from some local newspapers (e.g. Xtra Toronto here) and Schmap’s local feed network here. I haven’t seen anything compelling from Citysearch, AOL Patch, Topix etc either.
(Dev Khare is at Lightspeed Venture Partners in New Delhi and invests in Internet, mobile and software companies. He has led investments and served on the boards of companies like Slideshare, Appia and Aha Mobile. The post has been reproduced with the author’s permission from his blog, NextWala.)