Introducing EveryBlock

Jan232008

“What’s happening in my neighborhood?”

For a long time, that’s been a tough question to answer. In dense, bustling cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco, the number of daily media reports, government proceedings and local Internet conversations is staggering. Every day, a wealth of local information is created — officials inspect restaurants, journalists cover fires and Web users post photographs — but who has time to sort through all of that?

Our mission at EveryBlock is to solve that problem. We aim to collect all of the news and civic goings-on that have happened recently in your city, and make it simple for you to keep track of news in particular areas. We’re a geographic filter — a “news feed” for your neighborhood, or, yes, even your block.

Today we’re launching in three American cities: Chicago, New York and San Francisco. On each site, you can type in any address to read local news and public information near you. You’ll find three main types of news:

  • Civic information — building permits, crimes, restaurant inspections and more. In many cases, this information is already on the Web but is buried in hard-to-find government databases. In other cases, this information has never been posted online, and we’ve forged relationships with governments to make it available.
  • News articles and blog entries — major newspapers, community weeklies, TV and radio news stations, local specialty publications and local blogs. We do the work of classifying articles by geography, so you can easily find the mainstream media coverage near particular locations.
  • Fun from across the Web — local photos posted to the Flickr photo-sharing site, user reviews of local businesses on Yelp, missed connections from Craigslist and more. We figure out the relevant places and point you to location-specific items you might not have known about.

We like to toss around the word “news” to describe all of this, and that might surprise you at first. Isn’t news what appears on the front page of the New York Times? Isn’t news something produced by professional journalists?

Well, it can be — and we include as much of that on EveryBlock as possible. But, in our minds, “news” at the neighborhood or block level means a lot more. On EveryBlock, “Somebody reviewed the new Italian restaurant down the street on Yelp” is news. “Somebody took a photo of that cool house on your block and posted it to Flickr” is news. “The NYPD posted its weekly crime report for your neighborhood” is news. If it’s in your neighborhood and it happened recently, it’s news on EveryBlock.

Our team of four has worked long and hard for several months to bring you these three sites, and we’re excited to unveil them to the world — but they’re just the beginning. In the grand 21st Century tradition, our site is a work in progress, and we intend to add data and features rapidly over the coming days, weeks and months. If you have ideas, or find kinks in the system, we hope you’ll take a moment to send us feedback at feedback at everyblock.com. Every message goes to all four of us, and we read every one.

In the immediate future, look for about three to four more data types in each city. And we’re actively working on obtaining dozens of more data types from city officials. There’s a long way to go. Again, we need your help — please do e-mail us with any data-source ideas you might have.

Finally, as we’ve been working on EveryBlock and accumulating expertise in this area for several months, we’ve got much more than a single announcement’s worth of ideas and writings — so please come back to read this blog (or subscribe to the RSS feed) if you’re interested in what we’re doing.

We’ve had a ton of fun clicking around our sites while we’ve been building them, and we hope you find them useful, fun and serendipitous. Enjoy!

The EveryBlock Team
Chicago, IL

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