Have you ever moved to a new city without any idea of what neighborhood would best suit you? What neighborhood has the best public schools for you children, or the safest place to raise a family, or the best access to public transportation? Or maybe you want to know more about the neighborhood you’re already a part of and how you can improve the community that you live in. It is not easy to find a lot of this information in one place. But what if you could pull out your smartphone, enter a street address, and have a rating pop up that could give you all of this valuable information and more? Civic startup, Appallicious has done just that for the City of San Francisco with a brand new app called the Neighborhood Score.
I recently attended the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Las Vegas with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to unveil this one-of-a-kind mobile application, made possible by San Francisco’s open data initiatives. At the conference, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and I spoke at the Technology and Innovation Task Force with other civic leaders from all over the United States. At the panel we showed other cities how Neighborhood Score can empower citizens, elected officials, and community leaders.
Neighborhood Score gathers data from over 20 open data sets on the Federal, state, regional, and local level and then compiles that data into a 100-point rating score on a street-by-street basis. With this information, users are able to see how their neighborhoods rank down to the city block on a wide variety of issues like crime rate, pollution, quality of education, access to public transportation. Basically anything you would want to know about any particularly neighborhood in the city that you live in. This application gives citizens the crucial information they need when making big decisions like where to by a house, or small decisions like finding the safest bike route through the city.
Neighborhood Score is also invaluable to our local leaders, and the residents they serve. A mayor, supervisor, or department head can use Neighborhood Score to see how neighborhoods stack up to each other. The app makes it easy to see which areas are doing well on certain issues, like a low crime rate or higher quality of education. Elected leaders can then see what these neighborhoods are doing differently and implement strategies in target areas that might need additional support or more resources. Neighborhood Score will also help hold our leaders accountable. Residents can now easily see if their representatives are delivering on promises they’ve made to improve the communities that their constituents live in.
This extremely useful mobile application would not have been possible if local governments and agencies hadn’t opened up these vital data sets for civic start-ups and other innovators to use. We worked closely with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and other organizations like Code For America to bring San Franciscans the Neighborhood Score.
One of the reasons we launched the app at the U.S. Conference of Mayors was to show that every city in the country could easily have something similar if they too make their data easily accessible.
Relatively speaking, San Francisco is a pretty small city. You can make the seven-mile drive across the city, from the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean in less than 30 minutes. But on your way across you will go through tons of different neighborhoods, that can be so different from one another, they might as well be their own little cities.
We look forward to working with other local governments, mayors, city council members, department heads, and city leaders so their residents can utilize the same valuable information about their neighborhoods like the City by the Bay.
Yo Yoshida is the CEO of Appallicious, the company that created Neighborhood Score.