SouthWedge.org, a Web site devoted to Rochester’s South Wedge neighborhood, has been named a finalist for the Rochester Business Journal’s annual Best of the Web competition. The site is a collaboration between the South Wedge Planning Committee and simpleDigs LLC, a startup firm located in the Venture Creations business incubator at Rochester Institute of Technology, which also hosts the soon-to-be-released apartment listing Web site Newdigs.com.
SouthWedge.org combines basic Web features with strong social media components, including blogs, discussion forums and YouTube-style videos, to better connect residents of the South Wedge neighborhood. It also provides a conduit for neighborhood concerns that can then be passed on to city government and law enforcement organizations.
“The site gives residents of the neighborhood an easy way to communicate with each other and neighborhood leaders,” notes Robert Boyd, executive director of the South Wedge Planning Committee. “It is our hope this site will become a model for better linking individual neighborhoods and the organizations that serve them.”
“We developed this site to showcase the potential of social media in enhancing neighborhood-based community development,” says Ben Munson, co-founder of simpleDigs LLC. “This effort has been very beneficial for our business and for our community partners and we are very honored to be selected for the Best of the Web competition.”
SimpleDigs and South Wedge Planning are currently working to better integrate the site with the committee’s neighborhood planning, local business support and community development services. The firm has also been contacted by the City of Rochester to assist in designing a citywide social networking environment and is pursuing options for offering similar sites in other cities across the country.
“Social media can be a central tool in providing better services to neighborhoods while also giving citizens an outlet for communicating with their leaders,” notes Munson. “SouthWedge.org illustrates the potential of this technology and the benefits it can provide for a wide variety of community development and support organizations.