Google gets ‘Neighbourly’, to add more cities in India including Chennai

Bengaluru, Delhi top waitlist; Chennai, Hyderabad on cards

Google has announced the national roll-out of a new app from its ‘Next Billion Users’ team called ‘Neighbourly,’ which helps people source local information from their neighbours.

With more than 1.5 million downloads and half-a-million people on the waitlist, Google is rolling out ‘Neighbourly’ starting with Bengaluru and Delhi, which topped the waitlist.

Over the next few weeks, more cities will be added every day, including Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune. Some other cities include Kolkata, Chandigarh, Lucknow and Indore.

The ‘Neighbourly’ app has already made inroads in popular neighbourhoods in Mumbai first, followed by cities like Jaipur, Mysore, Vizag, Kochi and Coimbatore.

Ben Fohner, senior product manager on Google’s Next Billion Users team, said humans are the core part of the app as the information that users get from ‘Neighbourly’ comes from people based on their ‘experiences’ and not from a website.

Mr. Fohner said the process of creating ‘Neighbourly’ starting from research, testing, to the launch and expansion of the product was all focused on India. “But looking beyond [India] obviously this need exists everywhere and our hope is that we can take what we’ve learned from building ‘Neighbourly’ here and expand that to other countries as well. [But] it is not something we are doing immediately,” said Mr. Fohner. However, he did not share insights about how Google was planning to monetise this product.

‘From gas to jumbos’

Google said people are integrating ‘Neighbourly’ into their routines, asking just about anything from finding the source of an LPG odour to knowing “why there are elephants on the street outside?”

Each city’s distinct personality came out in the types of questions people are asking and answering. For example, Mumbai saw questions about flooded areas during the heavy rains, finding the nearest ‘Dahi Handi’ celebration and the time when a ‘vada pav’ seller comes to a particular locality.

Families and housewives in Coimbatore sought advice on shopping for festivals. Jaipur’s student community, which is active on the app, asked questions relevant to their studies such as finding information about “good accounting coaching.” Recent shifters in Mysore use ‘Neighbourly’ to help them find information about their new routines such as “getting a water purifier service,” according to the company.

The Hindu