Neighbors for Neighbors

Do stuff with and for your neighbors

Dear Neighbors,

Yesterday we did a pilot test of our new program - SnowCrew. SnowCrew is a group of neighbors who volunteer to coordinate and help shovel out neighbors in need after snow storms.

Leveraging the people logistics platform, volunteer "dispatchers" send volunteer "shovelers" on missions to shovel out neighbors who need help. "Shovelers" accept or decline via a text message or an iPhone app based on their location and availability.

Shoveling Results for 1/12/2011 Pilot Test:
  • 5 Businesses (Egleston Square) to help owners who could not get to their stores, therefore avoiding fines
  • 4 Crosswalks
  • 3 Elderly neighbors walkways, driveways, and porches
  • 2 Bus stops
  • 2 Vehicles
  • 2 Community maintained parks
  • 1 Injured neighbors walkway and porch
Volunteer Breakdown:
  • 53 Neighbors signed up via groundcrew to help
  • 34 Confirmed they were available to help
  • 11 Neighbors were dispatched
  • An unknown number of neighbors went out and shoveled from the map we posted in the SnowCrew group
  • Roy was our primary dispatcher. I helped and so did Jordan from GroundCrew

Preliminary Observations:

  • Neighbors rock!
  • SnowCrew members reportedly enjoyed shoveling together
  • Text messaging seemed to be the preferred choice vs. iPhone app
  • We need train crew members how to use the system before we launch (we did not have time this storm)
  • We need to do a thorough survey of the crews experience to gather feedback on the system and the program
  • We are going to need to do strategic outreach through our partners to get the word out this service exists
  • We are going to need more "dispatchers"

Want to Get Involved?

1) Sign up to help shovel, get the iphone app, or text  "Your Name" to 617-394-1588

2) Submit an address of a neighbor who needs help shoveling

3) Help coordinate the project - join this group.

Please leave comment with your thoughts, suggestions, or questions:





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Comment by Joseph Porcelli (Chief Neighbor) on January 14, 2011 at 11:16am
Rian and Bob - lets continue this conversation in the snow crew group.
Comment by Joseph Porcelli (Chief Neighbor) on January 14, 2011 at 11:15am

@ Rian:

Thank you for participating. I created the map at 4pm and did not get a chance to tell the team. My concern was we may not have gotten to each place - so I put it on the network thinking maybe someone would just do it. That worked - but left some our crew members finding already shoveled properties. My thinking - give the requestors and shovelers a way to updated the map - independent of dispatchers. My bad. Not yours. 

About the time - we need to figure out how to capture peoples availability. We tried to send a crew out around 2pm, but all but 1 of the 34 declined. 

We'll be asking folks if they have a snow plow service before hand - and if they do, to tell us why they need us. In one case, the company always comes late and neighbor, who was elderly, really just needed her path cleared so she could walk her dog. 

We are thinking about letting people adopt places and confirmed they can stil do and then report they did it. 

Thanks for the great feedback. 


@ Bob

You were the only person who responded to our call at 2:00 pm. Would it have helped if we told you - you were the only one and suggested maybe waiting until someone else was available to join you?

Text messages seemed to work best. 

For non-smart phone crew members - how about including intersections?

We will be required - people requesting help to give us updates. Great point. 

Sending people out in teams - will help address capacity for additional requests. 


Thank you both for your feedback!

Comment by Bob Dizon on January 13, 2011 at 10:16pm

I did my shoveling alone. Might have been nice to work with others for part of it. My only contact at first was the automated texts, which wanted rigid responses, so the system seemed impersonal. I understand you're getting the kinks out, but that could be a turn off for some. Also, it's not clear that the answers to the questions were as simple as was asked for. When you guys reverted to sending text messages, I felt like I had the flexibility to tell you what was actually going on. Also, I don't have a smartphone, so I don't have maps to find streets. Not sure how to handle that problem.

I would also recommend trying to find a way for the property owner to find out whether and approximately when someone is coming, and giving them a means for telling you that someone already did their place. Could save some wasted trekking through deep snow.


As for the shoveling, it was great meeting people in the neighborhood and helping them out. They were extremely thankful and positive. One question I have relates to how much of a job we should accept, given all the other jobs. They may keep asking for more and more areas cleared which may be nice to have clear but not necessary for reasonable access. One place still had hard ice under the new snow in an area that they asked to have shoveled. She didn't mind that I wasn't able to get the ice up ultimately. 


Great idea and I'd be happy to do it again, assuming it's on a weekend or at night or the snow is so bad that I work from home again.

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