Neighbors helping Neigbors

NbrlyU is a website that allows neighbors to perform small acts of kindness for each other.  This would reduce loneliness and social isolation among neighbors and build a sense of community and belonging. 

Product Experience

Problem Space - How might we complete small acts of kindness for our neighbors so that we build relationships with each neighbor, which will strengthen the community and reduce loneliness among neighbors?


Since pre-pandemic times, it was an issue that a majority of people do not know their neighbors and if you happen to know your neighbor’s name, it is likely that you barely talked to them.  This is very unfortunate because communities used to be a place where everyone knew and cared about each other.  Once the pandemic hit the United States, this issue unfortunately got worse.  

Based on a survey conducted by a Pew Research center, 57% of the people surveyed say they do not know their neighbor.  That climbs up to 72% for 30 to 49 year olds and 78% song 18-29 year olds. 

This is resulting in poor community involvement, feeling lonely and like you are living amongst strangers. A good neighbor is someone to be trusted and is a courteous, friendly source of help when help is needed.  To have good neighbors, we must also be good neighbors. Our survey also showed that people feel they would benefit from knowing their neighbors.

User Pain Points

Using Apps like NextDoor is not solving the problem of neighbors not knowing each other.  Most often in the Nextdoor app, neighbors are complaining and not helping each other outside of referring a good plumber or electrician.  The same goes for other neighbor apps out there.  There are plenty of ways for neighbors to receive the help that will cost them, but we wanted our approach to be different from the current options out there.


Through user interviews, surveys, and secondary research, we determined that the reasons why people do not know their neighbors have to do with a few of the following: 

1. Fewer walkers in the community lead to less opportunity for in-person interactions. Neighbors are getting in their cars and going to where they need to be leaving little chance to introduce or talk to your neighbor.

2.   Our homes and neighborhoods are not designed to encourage neighborly interactions. Some homes no longer have porches, allowing neighbors to talk to passers-by.

3.   No one takes the initiative to know their neighbor.

Landing on a Solution

The goal was to make it quick and easy for people in a community to help each other, and as a result, get to know what wonderful neighbors are around them and build their sense of community.  Our hypothesis was: If we can help neighbors interact with each other by doing something kind for one another, this will solve the issue of neighbors not knowing each other. This, in turn, will improve trust within the community which leads to higher rates of health and well-being than those who said they did not know or trust their neighbors.  Making a little time for small talk or helping your neighbor with a simple task ultimately makes your day more enjoyable while building community.

The Solution

As a team, we discussed whether this should be a web application or a mobile application and ultimately landed on a web application.  Based on our target users’ pain points, we knew we wanted to provide users with two options: 

Give Help or Ask for Help.  We then needed to collect details of the “Ask for Help” to match them with neighbors that want to “Give Help”.

Low Fi Mock Up

Hi-Fi Mock Up

Iterative Design Learnings

  • After we showcased our prototype to the users again, we learned that the branding approach to the project had to be changed to make it feel more inclusive.
  • The form design was changed as per the feedback received to make it more convenient for the user

Shipped Version

Implementation Details

NBRLYU is hosted at
Below is the Tech Stack used to develop our Product:

  • HTML5
  • React
  • Firebase
  • Git/GitHub

People will need help to send their requests to the front end via a form. The app then sends the data to the Firebase database under corresponding categories. People who wish to offer help retrieve suitable requests also via the form. Based on their inputs of category and zip code, the requests stored in the firebase matching the selected category and zip codes within 5 miles radius of the original zip code are then dynamically updated and displayed to the people who wish to offer help.

We had a few technical challenges, and early on in the project, we lost our backend developer.  We panicked initially because we knew we needed all parts of the puzzle for the project to be successful.  We decided to configure as much as we could for the front end.

We will have a scaling issue because, due to the npm package being based on the US zip code system, this app is currently limited to US customers only; also due to the lack of backend support, I have to use Firebase database which limits the structure of data and the search parameters.

Below are a few takeaways that we learned during this process.

  1. Being Agile is important for constant delivery to customers.
  2. Descoping, descoping, descoping.
  3. Changes can occur at any time during the project development due to a plethora of reasons, and quickly adapting to changes is important.

Future Steps

Although we had a lot of fun creating this product, we will not be continuing the project, however, this is what we learned from speaking to customers: 

  • They are looking for an easy way to start interacting more with their neighbors and this app excludes the noise usually included in neighborhood apps.
  • Users feel it is a move in the right direction to start facilitating more interaction between neighbors.
  • Users would like future enhancements to include tracking the number of times they have helped a neighbor and a list of help they have requested.  


Product Manager Learnings:

Chereese Barrow

During my time at Colab, I learned the following:

  1. Is important to quickly understand that you will not be able to accomplish all that you have in your mind of what you want your product to do and that is ok.  That is what iterations are for.
  2. Communication and flexibility are key to the team’s success.  
  3. Do not underestimate the time you have to complete a task.  Something that seems like a quick and easy solution may not be easy once you start implementing it.

Designer Learnings:

Geethu Tom

Collaborating as a product team at Co.lab has been a valuable learning experience.

  1. I learned that things don’t always go as planned. Some sacrifices have to be made along the way. 
  2.  I learned how to make the best use of the available time and resources to come up with a functional product.
  3. Communication and documenting all the design decisions at every step is very crucial in case there is any confusion at a later stage.

Developer Learnings:

Chris West

  1. I learned users are always at the center of agile principles.
  2. I learned to think through the logical steps of the problem to solve first before even writing a single line of code. Understanding the problem thoroughly will save so much time in programming.
  3. Last but not least, I learned that reading documents carefully is crucial in choosing the right tools for the job.

Developers Learnings:


Full Team Learning

Our team worked well from the beginning due to open and honest communication.  We were all ready to conquer the challenges of making this product come to life.  We learned that although you may not agree on ideas, it is important to develop a product that would be widely used by users.  We also learned just trust in the process and lean on the expertise of our mentor to get to the finish line.