EveryBlock, the innovative microlocal news and information site, expanded its network of locations to 15 this week, by offering four new “beta” cities: Atlanta, Houston, Dallas and Detroit.
In the EveryBlock blog announcement, founder Adrian Holovaty explains, “Why the ‘beta’ designation? We got so much demand for these cities in our city expansion poll that we wanted to get something out there for people to start using — but we know we have more work to do in finding new data sets, news sources and neighborhood boundaries. Each city has a smaller amount of news available than in our other cities, but we plan to expand over time.“
Some of the new cities have less information than the early EveryBlock launch locations, like Chicago. For instance, Detroit, which just beat out Baltimore for the highest homicide rate per capita, has no crime data currently.
Gathering this public data — especially in a dynamically updated format — can take significant resources to overcome government bureaucracy and make it happen. Those challenges should slowly erode though, as President Obama’s administration continues to move toward creating more open and transparent government information for public consumption. It will still take time for these initiatives to trickle down to state and city governments, but sites like EveryBlock show how this information can become a powerful and useful resource for local communities.
Everyblock was initially funded by a $1.1 million grant from the 2007 Knight Foundation News Challenge. That funding ends this year and the project’s resulting code will be released open source.