One of the things we love most about EveryBlock is the ability to give context and create discussion around public data, and how public data can impact communities in a positive way. It provides a way for citizens to get engaged in their communities, and a system for local governments to be more accountable for the services they provide. Not only do EveryBlock users make city service requests, but they use the data surrounding them to prompt discussions about the state of their neighborhood.
We are constantly working to add new public data sets to the site. In Chicago, available public data includes building permits, business licenses, crime reports, food inspections, and most recently, Open 311 requests. But we’d like to add more, and for that we’re looking for your feedback. The simple question is – what type of data do you feel would be the most useful for the EveryBlock community to know? Street closures? Train status? SNAP locations? Event permits?
Please take our short poll and let us know what you’d most like to see. If we haven’t listed the type of data you’re interested in, feel free to add it as a write-in. The poll is here: http://poll.fm/4qz9a
(Editor’s note: This is a user submission from our new “Share Your Story” tool.)
Park Manor/Chatham is the oldest African American Community in the USA! Our community has produced two Mayors and Two County Board Presidents for the City of Chicago. The resilience of our people to remain optimistic in the face of economic downturn and still fight for a peaceful, quality of life is testament to the beauty of this area and the strength of its residents.
My story centers around this Park Manor-Chatham existence as my being a life long resident since the late 50′s. As I look at our community today there has been many changes in people but NOT the quality of homes and people who work hard to keep them up. We strive today to build economic development in a changing demographic. Developers should run to our area and it is a jewel in the rough. The Mayor should strive to keep his promises and continue to build new developments in this wonderful area. The photo tells it all – We work for our youth who will take up the torch. Only by education and opening new opportunities for jobs will our community continue to survive.
EveryBock has proven to be an invaluable tool for communicating directly with my constituents on the important issues affecting my ward. It allows me to take the pulse of my community, put to rest false rumors and engage in an open and unfiltered dialogue with the people I represent. Thanks to EveryBlock, I have become a better public servant.
- Alderman Joe Moore, 49th Ward
When EveryBlock came back online January 23, I jumped right in and have paid a visit most days since, for a simple reason: I find information there that’s not available anywhere else.
My wife and I were regulars before the 2013 hiatus, sitting together on the couch watching TV while browsing the feed for our Rogers Park neighborhood. There was always something interesting, maddening, hilarious or just plain newsworthy on EveryBlock. Sometimes we would contribute news items or comments, but often we just watched the flow and said “Did you see what so-and-so just posted?” or “Wow, that comment thread about this-or-that is really getting out of hand.”
We’re back and so are many of the old regulars, most recently posting (repeatedly) about Jewel-Osco taking over the vacant Dominick’s at Clark and Howard; about some clay pots and soil that a neighbor would like to give away; about a socialist running for alderman against Joe Moore (himself an EveryBlock regular); and about a new planning process for North Broadway in Edgewater. And yeah, about the potholes.
I follow Rogers Park, Edgewater and Uptown to track what’s going on in those areas. I often filter to show only building permits, to learn right away about any demolitions or new construction. I get excited when I find something in that open-data stream that would never make the newspapers, or is too difficult to track in other ways.
I also use EveryBlock for professional purposes, keeping tabs on neighborhoods served by LISC Chicago, where I lead the communications team. When LISC-supported websites like the Pilsen Portal post stories, they’re picked up automatically as a Media Mention, along with news from other sources like DNAinfo or LoganSquarist. Some of our neighborhood partners post their own news and events on EveryBlock, and I’ve put up some relevant links myself.
No question about it: EveryBlock helps neighborhoods share information, and that’s a healthy thing.
Unfortunately, not every community has an adequate user base to keep things interesting, so in those neighborhoods it is in our interests to help build a stronger community of users who post, comment or just follow the stream. As for the more active neighborhoods like Rogers Park, sometimes the rhetoric gets a bit heavy or absurd, and the trolls come out. So that has to be managed, too, either with the Mute button or by marking something Unneighborly.
What’s exciting to me, a news junkie for 30 years, is that in Chicago we have access to an innovative and powerful platform for sharing information. Let’s nurture this thing and make it even more valuable as an instrument of neighborhood vitality.
- Patrick Barry, Rogers Park
I learned about EveryBlock from my NorthCenter neighborhood association. I recently started some virtual garage sale (VGS) groups in our area and needed a way to get the word out.
I posted on EveryBlock with a link to my VGS. The next morning I woke up to an overwhelming response to my posting. My VGS membership has been continuing to grow as a result of use of EveryBlock. The environment is very conducive to an online-driving project like VGS. The thing I enjoy about EveryBlock, is the thank you emails I receive. It is so nice to know people appreciate what I have created. I also appreciate the option to give thanks on EveryBlock, and the thanks people give me.