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Google to launch local query app ‘Neighbourly’ in India

(Image credit: Image Credit: Anthony Spadafora)

Google is rolling out a new app from its ‘Next Billion Users’ team, called ‘Neighbourly’, which helps people ask for and receive local information from their neighbours. The app has more than 1.5 million downloads already, and is popular in some areas of Mumbai, as well as in Jaipur, Vizag, Mysore, and Kochi.

The national rollout of the app will first hit Bangalore and Delhi, as the two cities topped the waitlist of half-a-million people. Over the coming weeks, more cities will be added, including Chennai, Pune, Kolkata and Hyderabad.

For the people, by the people

According to Ben Fohner, senior product manager on Next Billion Users, Neighbourly’s core is humans and their experiences, as the information disseminated comes from people, and not from websites. 

He said that the entire process of creating Neighbourly- from conceptualisation and research, to testing, launch and expansion- was India-focused. 

“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,”

Ben Fohner, Next Billion Users

There are no details as of now about how Google plans to monetise this product. According to the company, people’s questions on the app range from tracking down the source of an LPG odour to ‘why there are elephants on the street outside’. The questions are subjective, depending on the city- questions from Mumbai obviously dealt with (among other things) flooding during the rains, finding the closest Dahi Handi celebration, and when a vada pav vendor was due at a particular locality. Coimbatore was mostly concerned with festival shopping; Jaipur’s student community is particularly active on the app, asking questions about academics and tuition centres.

Predicted topics for Delhi and Bangalore:

  • Delhi: breathing masks, roadblocks, and food.
  • Bangalore- traffic updates, metro construction chaos, and pubs.

Clearly, Neighbourly is being integrated into people’s daily routines with relative ease.