When Wuhan residents recognized that quarantine would be lengthy and government resources would be stretched, they turned to each other for help. They utilized an existing social construct, the xiao qu (小区) group, which literally translates to “small district.” A xiao qu is an official designation from the city grouping together all the homes in a given area. Typically, a xiao qu captain (a volunteer or someone appointed by the property management) invites all residents into one WeChat group, which can range from 50 to 500 people in size. Wuhan has at least 7,106 xiao qu groups among its 11.08 million residents, many of which existed before the coronavirus took hold.
Once quarantines started, people realized that they could use the xiao qu to communicate with their socially distanced neighbors. And the hyperlocal network was born.