Hyperlocal is information oriented around a well-defined community with its primary focus directed toward the concerns of the population in that community. The term can be used as a noun in isolation or as a modifier of some other term (e.g. news). When used in isolation it refers to the emergent ecology of data (including textual content), aggregators, publication mechanism and user interactions and behaviors which centre on a resident of a location and the business of being a resident. More recently, the term hyperlocal has become synonymous with the combined use of applications on mobile devices and GPS technology. Use of the term originated in 1991, in reference to local television news content.
A working definition of hyperlocal was published in a 2012 Nesta report, describing it as "online news or content services pertaining to a town, village, single postcode or other small, geographically defined community".
Hyperlocal content has two major dimensions: geography and time. The dimensions are measures of the relevance or value perceived by the content consumer in time and space. The higher the content scores on these dimensions the more relevant the content becomes to the individual and the less it becomes to the masses. Hyperlocal content is targeted at or consumed by people or entities that are located within a well defined area, generally on the scale of a street, neighborhood, community or city. Hyperlocal content must also be relevant in time. The nature of the evolution of hyperlocal content follows these two dimensions. By combining the two dimensions we can identify types of hyperlocal content throughout history. In the distant past, hyperlocal content was low on the geographic dimension, meaning that the content met only broad needs of larger populations across bigger areas, and also low on the time dimension: relevance was perceived over long timescales. Examples include almanacs, town criers and written postings or other similar forms of infrequent content delivery mechanisms. More recent hyperlocal content scores higher on the geographic and time dimensions because it delivers more diverse content that targets geographic areas and remains relevant at much smaller time scales such as days and weeks not months and years. Recent examples of hyperlocal delivery mechanisms include neighborhood focused news sources, neighborhood voucher packs and neighborhood websites. More recently, hyperlocal content has evolved to include GPS enabled internet integrated mobile applications which score highly on both the geographic and the time dimensions. They are capable of delivering content that is relevant not just in a community but relevant right down to the individual within a geographic area that can be measured in meters and blocks not towns and neighborhoods. They are also capable of delivering content relevant at very short timescales such as seconds or minutes not just days or weeks.
Hyperlocal websites can focus on very specialized topics—i.e., stories and issues of interest only to people in a very limited area. So, for example, school board meetings, restaurant, community group meeting, and garage sales can receive prominent coverage. For example, Forumhome.org focuses on issues likely of interest only to the few thousand residents of the small New Hampshire towns it serves. Another example is Rheebo, a hyperlocal website that build communities around things people are passionate about. Hyperlocal sites may also focus on particular issues. For example, NewWest.net focus on issues relating to balancing economic development and environmental concerns in quickly growing towns in the Rocky Mountain West such as Boulder, Colorado, and Bozeman, Montana (see Exhibit 4.3). "Our core mission is to serve the Rockies with innovative, particularly journalism and to promote conversation that help us understand and make the most of the dramatic changes sweeping our region," the site notes. Much of the content on NewWest.net comes from freelancers and citizen contributors.
In recent years hyperlocal websites have been created to enable the concepts of the Sharing economy or Collaborative consumption. These websites allow peer communities to share human or physical assets. Examples include Yelp, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, eBay, Craigslist and Krrb. Many of the best-known hyperlocal news sites have sprung up independently, with the battle cry "local doesn't scale," but larger media companies have been interested in the concept as well. Formerly a much-vaunted subsidiary of AOL, Patch Media runs a large US based hyperlocal network of sites. According to a March 2015 article in CIO magazine, "Legions of underserved local advertisers were supposed to flock to Patch sites, leaving national publishers in the collective dust. . . . Of course, this wasn't how it played out. Scores of Patch sites were left inactive as the a company reexamined its strategy. Sure, hyperlocal content sounded great -- everyone wants to know what's happening around them -- but the flawed business model couldn't sustain it. Not enough big advertisers were targeting local markets."
The Washington Post Company also made a commitment to developing hyperlocal sites. Rob Curley, who has been called the "hyperlocal guru" for his previous work in Lawrence, Kansas, and Naples, Florida, joined washingtonpost.com in part to develop hyperlocal sites for that paper. The first Curley-led washingtonpost.com effort focused on Loudoun County, a fast-growing suburb in Northern Virginia. The site loudounextra.washingtonpost.com underwent a branding change to loudenextra.com, but that now redirects to a section of the parent paper, www.washingtonpost.com.
Some hyperlocal sites included detailed searchable community events calendars and restaurant information, a complete listing of churches (including 360-degree inside views and recordings of sermons) and police blotter information updated every day. "Knocked down mailboxes will be newsworthy", Curley promised. "What we're doing is taking the local and treating it like it's the superstar". Others at washingtonpost.com have high hopes for the hyperlocal sites. "It's a big effort", says managing editor Jim Brady. "When you take our daily traffic and combine it with Rob Curley's expertise—if it can't work here, it can't work anywhere".
Some journalists, not surprisingly, are skeptical of the hyperlocal movement's focus on the often mundane information of daily life. Hyperlocal "has the potential to trivialize a media organization's brand and further saturate news sites with myopic local (and frequently unedited) content, perhaps at the expense of foreign and national reporting", said an article in the American Journalism Review. Still, media companies are searching for new ways to reach audiences with content that interest them, and hyperlocal definitely holds that potential. BBC's Van Klaveren says journalistic organizations need to embrace both the so-called "big-J" journalism and the hyperlocal: "We need to move beyond news to information".
Social networking sites originally did not host hyperlocal content but were the largest distributors of such content hosted on other sites. This is because of the contemporary nature of sharing and the predominantly local composition of user's network in which content is shared. This type of distribution is secondary (done by users) in contrast to the primary distribution done by the content hosting site itself (e.g. Craigslist). In recent years there has been a shift in user behavior to use Social Networking sites for both creating as well as sharing hyperlocal content. Prime examples exist in the phenomenon that Whatsapp is being increasingly used for community organization and eCommerce despite having no feature support for these activities. Facebook also hosts 60x more event than eVite (the leading site which specializes in events only). This user behavior suggests that an effective hyperlocal distribution is a more important consideration for users than the superior quality of the content itself. Since 2010, evidence shows that Social Networking sites have been mobilizing to aid and leverage this user behavior. Google acquired Zagat in 2011. Since 2012 Facebook has been adding new features to create varied hyperlocal content e.g. Blogs, Events. In early 2015 Facebook announced the feature to mark a post as sold and later in 2015 it introduced a C2C payment system. Many believe these steps as precursors to an imminent launch of Facebook Classifieds and Marketplace, most likely rolled into one.
While many traditional print publications are shutting down or publish exclusively online, local newspapers in small towns can still make a profit. National companies that mail full-color glossy hyperlocal magazines to targeted neighborhoods include N2 Publishing and Best Version Media. Comparing themselves to Facebook, they publish mostly user-generated content written by local residents and homeowners associations.
The most recent incarnation of hyperlocal content grew out the combination of satellite based location services and advanced wireless data built into mobile devices. Satellite-based location services allow a high degree of physical location precision. When combined with a mobile device's access to the vast set of Internet data and services, hyperlocal takes on new dimensions. Realtime internet awareness of an individual's precise location in time allows people and entities to consume or deliver hyperlocal content that is relevant to specific individuals at very small time scales.
Hyperlocal GPS mobile apps, in particular, change the nature of human interaction with their environment by providing a much faster, richer and relevant source of information. The mobile Internet data connection available to hyperlocal apps allows GPS location data to be fused with Internet data to improve the decision process of the user. Examples of these types of hyperlocal content providers are Google Maps, Foursquare and LaunchLawyer. In contrast to printed maps, the mobile Google Maps app allows users to identify places and interests around their current GPS location. In contrast to rating services or directories, the mobile Foursquare app uses GPS location data to enable users to make more informed choices and receive better deals. In contrast to printed or online lawyer directories, the GPS-enabled LaunchLawyer mobile app combines GPS awareness with the ability to almost instantly get a lawyer. In each case the combination of mobile device, GPS and the Internet changed the manner in which consumption of information, services or goods took place.
There are other types of data which have local or hyperlocal relevance, or be of interest to residents - e.g. a government statistic on crime rates in one's neighborhood. Such data, while relevant to residents are of a qualitatively different type.
For large corporations successfully targeting local populations can involve either shedding or leveraging corporate identity:
While there are various ways in which hyperlocal content is being created and published, blogs have become a key part of the hyperlocal ecology. Their basic roles evident in the space include individual blogs, blog networks, and aggregators.
Some others initiatives are made for this purpose in the USA by the company Marchex, and in FRANCE by the network ProXiti. They are developing networks of thousands hyperlocal news sites like www.10282.net (Manhattan 212) or www.75016.info (paris 16eme arrondissement).
In response to the burgeoning number of hyperlocal news sites in New Jersey, The Citizens Campaign founded the Hyperlocal News Association (HNA). The HNA works to foster and encourage growth of new hyperlocal sites across the state.
Birchfield is an area of Perry Barr, Birmingham, England. It gave its name to the Birchfield Harriers athletics club, now based at the nearby Alexander Stadium, also in Birmingham. It has a hyperlocal website for the area called Birchfield Residents Activity Blog, and a Community Newspaper,The Birchfield Bugle.Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies
The Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) (Welsh: Ysgol Newyddiaduriaeth, y Cyfryngau ac Astudiaethau Diwylliannol, Caerdydd) is Cardiff University's school for training in media. It is one of the journalism schools whose main universities are part of the Russell Group universities. It was founded as the Cardiff Journalism School in 1970 by Sir Tom Hopkinson and is the longest established postgraduate centre of journalism education in Europe. The school is considered to be one of the best training centres for journalists, and is described as the "Oxbridge of journalism".The school is located in a newly constructed residence in 2 Central Square, having transferred from its former home in Cathays Park in September 2018. The Head of the School is Professor Stuart Allan and the current Director of the Centre of Journalism Studies is Professor Richard Sambrook, former Director of BBC World Service and Global News.
The school is also home to Cardiff University’s Centre for Community Journalism (C4CJ) which developed the world's first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on community journalism. The Centre is now responsible for running the UK's only representative body for community and hyperlocal publishers: The Independent Community News Network (ICNN).ChicagoNow
ChicagoNow is a blogging site managed by Tribune Publishing, owner of the print Chicago Tribune newspaper. It features a network of blogs of international, national, and local interest on a variety of topics ranging from crime to public schools to politics and diplomacy.Notable ChicagoNow contributors include the staff of the Chicago Reporter, and Shimer College president Susan Henking.Colorado Public Radio
Colorado Public Radio (CPR) is a public radio state network based in Denver, Colorado that broadcasts three services: news, classical music and OpenAir, which plays adult album alternative music. CPR operates a 30-signal, statewide radio network accessible to 80 percent of Coloradans. As of 2013, CPR had 440,000 weekly listeners, 47,000 contributing members and annual revenue of $14 million. In early March 2019, CPR acquired hyperlocal news site Denverite from Spirited Media to bolster its web news coverage for locals.CPR is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. Private support from listeners, corporations, foundations and partners accounts for approximately 95 percent of CPR's total budget.Community Impact Newspaper
Community Impact Newspaper is a chain of hyperlocal monthly newspapers delivered for free to homes and businesses. John P. Garrett is the CEO and Founder, along with his wife Jennifer Garrett. In August 2018, Community Impact Newspaper had 26 print editions delivering to more than 2 million mailboxes in the Austin, Houston, Dallas | Fort Worth and Phoenix areas.Green River, Wyoming
Green River is a city in and the county seat of Sweetwater County, Wyoming, United States, in the southwestern part of the state. The population was 12,515 at the 2010 census.Harringay Online
Harringay Online is a hyperlocal social network based in the neighbourhood of Harringay, north London.Local news
In journalism, local news refers to coverage of events, by the news, in a local context that would not be an interest of another locality, or otherwise be of national or international scope. Local news, in contrast to national or international news, caters to the news of their regional and local communities; they focus on more localized issues and events. Some key features of local newsrooms includes regional politics, business, and human interest stories. Local news readership has been declining in recent years, according to a recent study.Mission Local
Mission Local is a bilingual local independent online news site that also publishes a semiannual printed paper that covers the Mission District of San Francisco.Patch Media
Patch is an independent U.S. local news and information platform, primarily owned by Hale Global. As of May 2014, Patch operated some 906 local and hyperlocal news websites in 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.. Patch Media Corporation is the operator of the service.Pegasus News
Pegasus News was an online-only hyperlocal news source for the Dallas–Fort Worth region founded by Mike Orren.
The site was originally owned by PanLocal Media LLC. It pioneered many news site features that have since become more common, including customized content per-user, programmatic advertising, content curation from partner sites and tight integration of advertising and editorial in a single content management system.
In 2007 the website was acquired by Fisher Communications, who said that they planned to use the Pegasus model for their television stations' websites.Pegasus News won a Katie Award from the Dallas Press Club and an Eppy Award from Editor & Publisher in 2008 for "Best Web Site".In 2009, Gap Communications, a company specializing in mid-sized radio markets, acquired Pegasus News.
In July 2012, Pegasus News was acquired by The Dallas Morning News. The website was closed in February 2014.Queensferry, Flintshire
Queensferry is a small town, community and electoral ward in Flintshire, Wales, lying on the River Dee near the border with England. The community includes the village of Sandycroft.Sweetwater County, Wyoming
Sweetwater County is a county in southwestern Wyoming, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 43,806. Its county seat is Green River. By area, it is the largest county in Wyoming. Its southern boundary line abuts the north lines of the states of Colorado and Utah.
Sweetwater County comprises the Rock Springs, Green River, Wyoming Micropolitan Statistical Area.The Daily Independent (Ridgecrest)
The Daily Independent is a daily newspaper serving Ridgecrest, California, United States. It is owned by GateHouse Media.
The DI has been in business since 1926. This small-market daily has its main focus on hyperlocal journalism, covering the news of the Indian Wells Valley. It also has strong sports coverage, focusing on youth sports, three local high schools and a community college.The Daily Voice (U.S. hyperlocal news)
Daily Voice, formerly Main Street Connect, is an American community journalism company specializing in hyperlocal media, that is headquartered in Armonk, New York, and currently operates 76 town-based news web sites in Westchester County, Dutchess County, Putnam County, Rockland County in New York; Bergen County, Passaic County in New Jersey; and Fairfield County, Connecticut.Twin Cities Daily Planet
The Twin Cities Daily Planet is an independent website specializing in news events in the Minneapolis – Saint Paul metropolitan area. The Twin Cities Daily Planet is an edited news source produced by professional journalists working in collaboration with citizen journalists from the local community. It publishes original reported news articles, articles republished from other local and ethnic media partners, and some content (Free Speech Zone articles, blog entries, comments) that is moderated but not edited, including posts published by affiliated local and neighborhood blogs. The Daily Planet describes itself as a purveyor of "hyperlocal journalism."In 2009, the Daily Planet won overall Minnesota honors as the "best independent online news website" in the annual list of Page One honors bestowed by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.In August and September 2015, the Daily Planet went through a massive restructuring in which almost all staff were laid off as part of the newspaper's conversion into a mouthpiece for issues journalism. Some members of the Daily Planet staff went on to found the Twin Cities Arts Reader. This restructure including eliminating the vast majority of the paper's substantial and award-winning performing arts coverage, and ceasing to write critical reviews.Village Media
Village Media is a Canadian media company, which operates a number of hyperlocal online news and community websites throughout Ontario. Based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, the company's properties include the internet news sites SooToday.com in Sault Ste. Marie, BayToday.com in North Bay, BarrieToday.com in Barrie, GuelphToday.com in Guelph, TimminsToday.com in Timmins, ElliotLakeToday.com in Elliot Lake, OrilliaMatters.com in Orillia, and OttawaMatters.com in Ottawa
The company formerly operated the video news portal local2.ca in Sault Ste. Marie, and the VM Radio network of internet radio streams. Local2 was fully integrated into SooToday. VM Radio was shut down.
Village Media's news sites focus on providing local stories written by local journalists in the communities that they serve. In addition to local news, the sites offer weather, events, obituaries, and a wide range of community information. Village Media is known for supporting local events and charitable causes.
The company also maintains content and marketing partnerships with community newspapers in several other Ontario cities, including Northern Life in Sudbury, TBNewswatch.com in Thunder Bay and Manitoulin.ca on Manitoulin Island. Village Media was also a partner with the defunct LocalXpress in Halifax, providing them the publication platform.WeatherBug
WeatherBug is a brand owned by GroundTruth, based in New York City, that provides location-based advertising solutions to businesses. WeatherBug consists of a mobile app reporting live and forecast data on hyperlocal weather to consumer users.Young Rewired State
Young Rewired State (often styled as YRS) was an organisation based in the United Kingdom, which ran events and schemes for technically gifted young people aged 18 and under. It brought together young developers, designers, and those with other technical skills to build projects (mainly phone and web applications) to attempt to solve real world problems. Many developers who participated in Young Rewired State events learned coding skills outside the traditional school curriculum.Young Rewired State was founded in 2009 by Emma Mulqueeny, James Darling, and Richard Pope. It was initially run as an annual event by its sister organisation Rewired State. The former Managing Director of Young Rewired State was Ruth Nicholls, a law graduate from Cambridge University.
The last event run by Young Rewired State was the 2015 Festival of Code, and the organisation was formally dissolved in February 2019.