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EveryBlock Adds L.A., but Data Lacks

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, August 28, 2008, at 12:49PM
EveryBlock Screenshot []

Local content aggregator Everyblock rolled out a Los Angeles site on Wednesday, bringing its city count up to nine. The site attempts to merge local news with public records, creating a single feed that documents change in each neighborhood.

While the Everyblock concept is of great interest, the finished product seems to still leave one saying "This would be cool, if..."

The Los Angeles launch offers aggregated news, Yelp business reviews, LAPD's crime map data, LAFD fire alerts, restaurant inspection reports, liquor license updates and a few other geocoded bits from around the web. It pulls them all together and offers a search interface intended to allow users to break down data in a variety of ways.

Everyblock launched in January, funded by a $1.1 million grant from the Knight Foundation. The site was founded by Adrian Holovaty, who developed one of the first web "mashups," by plotting Chicago crime data onto Google Maps. The site differs from geo-blog aggregator in its push to bring public records into the data stream.

The goal is to create a site where users can get a deep feel for neighborhood news. One could follow a new restaurant through its entire life cycle, for instance, seeing building permits granted, inspections take place, and finally news stories and Yelp reviews about an opening roll in.

The value of any aggregator is only as high as its data, and the data that Everyblock has rolled out in Los Angeles leaves a lot to be desired. The public records integrated are sparse, but that's to be expected with a bureaucracy like L.A.'s.

Downtown neighborhoods are a head-scratcher, with the site identifying "Downtown," "New Downtown" (Financial District), "Civic Center-Little Tokyo," "South Park" and "Wholesale District-Skid Row."

News stories for Downtown are polluted by the site's aggregation of aggregator CityFeedsLA. CityFeeds scrapes blogdowntown's content, which then gets picked up and doubled up on Everyblock. The site's geocoding relies on addresses and intersections embedded in the story text, which means that content that does not specifically identify a location falls under the radar.

Despite these shortcomings, the site's mission and the work that it has done to push the accessibility of public records is one that should be commended. While Everyblock may not revolutionize how Downtowners get information about the neighborhood, it's a site that's certainly worth keeping an eye on.


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