Jan 10, 2024 | 4 min read

Unlock the value of generative AI with local data

In today's digital age, harnessing data effectively separates successful platforms from the rest. Nextdoor's unique local data set primarily comprises user-generated information from the neighborhoods. This can include real-time insights about local events, safety reports, recommendations, service provider reviews, and discussions happening in a specific locality. It could also include demographic data, interests, and behaviors of the residents in those neighborhoods. These detailed local perspectives contribute to the formation of the unique local knowledge graph that Nextdoor owns.

For businesses on Nextdoor, this is game-changing, because these businesses can use Nextdoor's unique real-time local data to tailor their advertising strategies, ensuring that their messages are reaching the most relevant and receptive audience in their immediate locality. With over 85M highly-engaged neighbors on Nextdoor today, we are excited to explore the possibilities for AI to enhance the neighborhood experience and fuel business growth. 

Many platforms, including ours, have harnessed AI and Machine Learning (ML) for years to recommend timely and relevant content to the users. While many platforms get lost in the vast expanse of global data, Nextdoor delves deep into hyperlocal insights. Nextdoor's new approach is distinct, as our differentiator has been to bring generative AI to the neighborhood for the first time.  Coupled with our first-party local data, we can achieve something special. This local knowledge graph allows us to tap into the heartbeat of communities, ensuring we're not just aware, but ingrained in helping communities to thrive.

At Nextdoor our purpose is to cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on, and when it comes to generative AI,  we’re really excited about the opportunities to strengthen human connection and help neighbors bring their best selves to the community. To do this, Nextdoor has integrated generative AI to drive engaging and kind conversations in the neighborhood. In partnership with OpenAI and leveraging ChatGPT, our new “Assistant” feature is enhancing the way neighbors communicate with one another by helping them write posts that are more likely to drive positive community engagement. At Nextdoor, one of the ways to drive user engagement in their communities is through emails, where we send a single post from the neighborhood that we think the user might be interested in and want to engage with. We fine-tuned ChatGPT to generate informative and interesting subject lines of the emails that will lead to more email opens, clicks and eventually more community engagements. Further, to enhance neighborhood vitality, we’re using generative AI to suggest ways to rephrase potentially unkind comments and recommend kinder revisions for comments that trigger our Kindness Reminder. This use of generative AI to encourage kindness accelerates Nextdoor’s ongoing efforts to build an inclusive, welcoming community for all.

But, Nextdoor's journey hasn't stopped at content for neighbors. At Nextdoor, we recognize that local businesses are the lifeblood of communities, and we've strategically invested to ensure that they too reap the advantages of our AI. We frequently see neighbors seeking recommendations or sharing their positive experiences with local businesses. Recognizing that many local entrepreneurs don't have the luxury of time or expertise for in-depth marketing, we’ve employed generative AI. Our AI captures and summarizes rave reviews from neighbors, providing richer, more localized insights than mainstream review platforms. Building on these local insights, we are working to  turn those reviews into a really efficient way to create an ad on the platform. Again, we're just trying to make it simple and fast for that business to do what they need to do, which is make their beautiful products, so that they are able to generate more customers and revenue. 

Nextdoor is building sophisticated, industry-leading, technologies to guide generative AI to produce engaging content. We develop a reward model designed to predict whether users would prefer a particular piece of content. We ask generative AI to generate a few different variations for the same content, and we evaluate the candidates by the reward model and select the content with the highest reward model score. This technique is called best-of-n sampling or rejection sampling. To the best of our knowledge, this represents an early milestone in the industry’s successful use of AI generated content to enhance user engagement.

Nextdoor also relies on its highly-engaged neighbors to facilitate the scenarios mentioned above. Everyday, neighbors naturally tag massive data — whether it's to highlight a local event, to sell an item, or to flag content for moderation. Such organically tagged data is a rich source for training local-specific generative AI, known as LocalGPT. LocalGPT is a specialized large language model developed by Nextdoor, fine-tuned on GPT for specific Designated Market Areas (DMAs). It can engage with users akin to ChatGPT but possesses distinct local knowledge specific to Nextdoor.

Of course, any data-driven initiative brings ethical considerations. With the increase in the prevalence of AI in everything that we do, we must guard against a new "digital divide," ensuring that everyone, irrespective of background, gender or ethnicity, benefits equitably from these advancements. Nextdoor is committed to transparency, privacy, safety, accountability, authenticity, and inclusivity, and we aim to celebrate the rich tapestry of local dialects and expressions without imposing a homogenized linguistic model. This is essential because localism isn't just about geographic data; it's about embracing the nuances, languages, and cultures of each community.

Data is already the crown jewel for many businesses, so as we harness the potential of AI and our local knowledge graph, our operating norms need to also evolve, and it is critical to recognize and mitigate inherent biases, ensuring that our platform remains inclusive and diverse.

As we move forward, we are committed to improving user experiences while upholding ethical standards, ensuring that the benefits of these advancements are shared equitably across our diverse global community to help foster genuine neighborhood bonds.

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Author image Nextdoor Editorial Team At Nextdoor, we love local. The Nextdoor Editorial Team is dedicated to telling stories of local businesses, providing product education, and sharing marketing best practices to help businesses grow.