EveryBlock: A neighborhood site done right

EveryBlock is a good place for residents to hang out. Speculators can go to Zillow.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

I've covered a few interesting sites that collate information that people living in neighborhoods could use (see reviews of Zillow Community Pages and StreetAdvisor). None of them, so far, has replaced for me my local neighborhood paper (The Noe Valley Voice). The paper, of course, is limited. It's old news, it's not social, and it's not interactive. But it is relevant.

The new Everyblock does a really good job of collecting neighborhood information from existing sources. It does not appear that its founders are trying to create a new Yelp or a new Craigslist. Instead, smartly, EveryBlock grabs data from sites like those and puts it all in front of you, filtered by location. Put in your address, or neighborhood, and you'll see a useful list of things that might matter to you: building permits recently issued nearby, crime reports, lost and found, recent restaurant reviews, and other useful tidbits. You can also search for items, like "school board Richmond district."

What's up near me? Handy.

Unlike real estate sites, which also have some of this data, EveryBlock is clearly designed for residents, not buyers. That makes the site feel a lot more like the aforementioned local newspaper, and a lot less like those glossy real estate catalogs you pick up when you're in the market to buy.

I like that EveryBlock is not trying to beat users over the head with its own social networking functions, although I could see the site adding neighborhood networks, perhaps using Ning or another off-the-shelf tool.

One small criticism: Neighborhood borders seem a bit off in some cases. It's a tough problem to solve, since different people in a city will define neighborhoods differently from each other. The small company Urban Mapping has some interesting work in this space.

EveryBlock is live now for Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. If you live in one of those burgs, it's definitely worth checking out.

See also: Backfence, Fatdoor, Outside.in, and YourStreet.