AUSTIN, Texas -- This past holiday season, about 1.2 million people purchased a drone, but a growing problem with this influx is owners losing these drones.
Jolie Daniels is a local Realtor who lives in Leander. This past New Year's Day, while she was playing in the backyard with her daughter, she noticed an object out of place.
"We found it blinking and laying over on its side in our yard," Daniels said. "We had no idea where it came from."
Daniels first thought was to go to her Nextdoor application on her phone, which is a social networking tool that allows people in neighborhoods to communicate with one another.
Jen Burke, the Senior Communications Manager for Nextdoor, said the purpose of this app is to make it easier for people in small communities -- such as neighborhoods -- to get in touch with each other.
"It's a very easy way to just connect with your neighbor if you know each other and talk about the things that matter in your community," Burke said. "It could be something like a lost dog or people needing to let their neighbors know about a crime issue. There a lot of uses for it."
So Daniels used the app and found multiple neighbors talking about a family who had been going door to door, asking about a lost drone. Daniels ended up finding the owner the day she found the drone and returning it to that family. Daniels said lost drones are starting to become a common theme around her neighborhood.
"We have a large recreational field in the front of the community and it seems to be the place that everyone wants to go and play," Daniels said.
Surprisingly, lost drones aren't just a problem for Daniels' neighborhood. Nextdoor recently surveyed several hundred of its members and found out more than half said they had lost a drone since the holidays. Of those owners, nearly 40 percent said they found the drone just a few streets away -- thanks to the help of their app.
"It's not citywide, it's community wide, so you can go by street, block, and neighborhood," Daniels said. "It focuses on small communities."
Burke said that more than 122,000 neighborhoods across the country have launched Nextdoor websites, and in the greater Austin area, more than 1,500 neighborhoods have launched Nextdoor websites.
"We have seen a very large spike after the holidays of drone posts on Nextdoor," Burke said. "We saw thousands of drone posts on Nextdoor. It's definitely a growing trend."
That is why these two pieces of technology seem to be made for each other. Lost drones are often times nearby but far enough to be out of sight. The Nextdoor app connects people to others who might just find the device in their backyard -- like Daniels.
"It's not that we wouldn't be able to do it without the app, but it definitely facilitates the connection," Daniels said. "It makes it quicker."