Imagine if your local community of residents and businesses took to Twitter to share information specifically about what's happening in your area alone.

This is the mission of Qork, a new social app launched today that enables users to share and access real-time local information as quickly and easily as they would a tweet.

"Hyperlocal is a problem but the potential is huge," says Qork Chief Marketing Officer Ben Goldman. "Even though we're living in the information age, we don't know what's happening in our immediate area. If you search for information on your area, you'll get a news site or local reviews, but what's happening right now that wouldn't make the news?"

That information gap was the inspiration for Qork's model: A platform where users spread news, promote events, start conversations, and pose queries on a local level via short-form "qorks."

In addition to streaming qorks to a linear feed, the app also dynamically maps them, so you can easily visualize what is happening right around you. You can also "upvote" or "downvote" qorks and organize your feed by what's voted most popular.

QORK 2 QORK 1

Of course, the success of any social app depends on the breadth and activity of its users. Based on the success of Twitter and crowdsourced resources like Wikipedia and Yelp, Qork believes that users will happily share more local information, specifically Gen Z users.

"Gen Z is an exciting generation. Their goals are to change the world. They share more info online than any generation before them," says Goldman. Indeed, 60% of Gen Zers say they like to share their knowledge with others online, while 64% say they contribute to websites because they like learning about new things.

If Qork succeeds in leveraging a strong, active user base, it has the potential to build a scalable hyperlocal resource, which traditional journalism models, like AOL Patch, have failed to realize.

"Hyperlocal is too big of a problem to solve in a traditional way, like hiring journalists," Goldman says. "It needs to be democratized; everyone needs to contribute."

The good news for Qork is that hyperlocal social apps are already gaining ground. One example is the hugely popular location-based messaging app Yik Yak, which allows users within a 1.5-mile radius of each other to read and post messages to a feed. Launched in October 2013, Yik Yak recently raised $62 million in funding and has at least one million downloads of its Android app alone (it's also available on iOS).

"Basically we see the Yik Yak raise as validation that the time for hyperlocal is now. It wasn't 5 years ago, and it's not 5 years from now," Goldman said in an email.

Qork is available starting today for free download on iOS and Android.

Published on: Jan 15, 2015