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Mechelen, such a great city. The authentic setting, filled with culture, friendly people, picturesque squares, … But what makes it such an amazing place to us? It was the very first city to help build Hoplr’s future!

Where it all began: pilot project

Summer of 2016: a first contact with the department of Neighbourhood and Village Affairs is made. From the very start, it was clear to us that the City of Mechelen considers neighbourhood communication to be extremely important. By the time autumn arrived, we had already kicked off with a Hoplr pilot project.

Such pilot project is a great way for municipalities to get a feel for the neigbourhood network and to see what value it can bring them. More specifically, we roll out a couple of the municipality’s neighbourhoods. In Mechelen, we launched the Hoplr-neighbourhoods for Groot Begijnhof, Arsenaal, Battel and Heihoek.

Our neighbourhood grew quickly. What really surprised me was the solidarity between neighbours, which is just heartwarming.
Hoplr really does bring neighbours closer together!

Kin Chi Chow, founder near Heihoek

In January 2017, the counter was at 1,437 registered households, 273 messages and 2,034 comments in these 4 neighbourhoods. Word spread to the other neighbourhoods of Mechelen. As a result, several committed citizens took the initiative, rolled up their sleeves and launched their own neighbourhoods, among which Tervuursesteenweg and Walem.

Finally, if the municipality decides that the pilot project was successful, they may opt for a city-wide rollout. By the way, so far all of our pilot projects have resulted in such collaboration!

At the beginning of 2017, we launched our Hoplr neighbourhood. The neighbourhood committee saw Hoplr as an ideal tool to keep in touch with all members of the community and, simultaneously, offer them the means to expand their own social network within the neighbourhood. We keep seeing new registrations, and we continuously discover new ways in which Hoplr can be useful to the neighbourhood.

Pascal Blancquaert, initiator of neighbourhood Tervuursesteenweg

Collaboration City of Mechelen

Hoplr’s first three years were mainly devoted to product development. But we don’t need to tell you: it takes more than just love and devotion for a business to survive.

Hoplr is 100% ad-free, and it made sense to us that local governments would enable the platform on which their citizens meet and call on each other. That’s why we offer a yearly license to partners that offer an added value to the neighbourhoods, such as local governments and utility companies. Read all about Hoplr’s business model here.

With just a prototype and vision, persuading municipalities to work with Hoplr without tangible proof of success… It wasn’t easy to get started. And yet, the City of Mechelen saw Hoplr’s potential straight away. The ability to communicate with citizens at the neighbourhood level was of great value to them. By the end of 2017, every single household in Mechelen had received a invitation to their Hoplr neighbourhood.

map of Mechelen's 30 Hoplr neighbourhoods

Hoplr is an additional means of stimulating social cohesion. As a community worker, Hoplr allows me to reach out to members of the community I haven’t met before, and I can keep in touch with what’s happening in the neighbourhood. Meanwhile, citizens use it to stay up to date about their neighbourhood, to organise activities or simply to chat with their neighbours.

Belinda Brams, community worker Mechelen

1 in 3 households in Mechelen use Hoplr

Currently, 9,924 households from Mechelen are active on the neighbourhood network, which accounts for more than 20,000 messages and 121,000 reactions from neighbours.

Furthermore, the activity and engagement on the network in Mechelen are high: an average of 152 new messages and just under 1,000 comments every week. In the meanwhile, Hoplr has proven to be a success in many other cities such as Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and dozens of others.

graphs show the conversion and growth of the number of Hoplr users in the city of Mechelen: 32,1% conversion
 Growth figures in Mechelen on Hoplr: graphs with the number of messages and reactions in the Hoplr neighbourhoods of Mechelen

How does the City of Mechelen use Hoplr?

Now, four years after that very first contact, the City of Mechelen and its citizens still make full use of Hoplr. Neighbourhood parties, citizen participation and raising awareness, Mechelen shows how it’s done: stimulating social cohesion by meaningful citizen communication.

View practical examples of what kind of messages municipalities post on Hoplr, here.

Hoplr is an interesting channel for the city to communicate at the level of the neighbourhood quickly and efficiently. These messages include road works, local initiatives, neighbourhood events,… And the citizens’ responses to our posts have been great.

Dirk Mattheeuws, project officer participation

It’s an honour to be able to look back at the trust we have gotten from such a beautiful city and we look forward to seeing how this partnership will evolve in the future! Onto 50%!

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