Moving is, without a doubt, one of the most stressful things a human on this Earth can do — and unless you have the means to pay ridiculously high broker fees, figuring out on your own which neighborhood is best for you can be a major struggle. Luckily, there's a new program that's here to help. PlaceILive is a data-driven neighborhood map and index, and it's based entirely on data that's free. Like last year's "A Day in the Life" taxi trip visualizer, PlaceILive (launching soon in recognition of International Open Data Day) draws on open-source data that comes from "different states, local authorities, private companies, [and] non-governmental organisations" that helps you see how certain parts of your city stack up to others in terms of livability.
But "open data" in its original forms can be difficult to access meaningfully. What apartment-seeker is going to take time off work, for instance, to go poke through her city's web archives of rental data, page by page? With PlaceILive, multiple layers of data about different aspects of neighborhoods are sortable, searchable, and viewable all at once. PlaceILive has also developed its own algorithm, called the Life Quality Index (LQI), which can give you an idea of how desirable a neighborhood is, based on common qualities people tend to want in their residences (for example, safety and transportation). Check out my block of midtown Manhattan. It ranks pretty well overall, but it's apparently close to entertainment at the cost of being close to other types of services people want in their daily lives.
At 29, it looks like I'm on the young side for the neighborhood, which is dominated by 41-50 year olds:
But there are slightly more women than men, so I guess I'd better guard my husband from all those cougars or something.
I can even answer questions to contribute to the info available for my neighborhood in the future, like "Is there a free parking space in this area?" (lol). Although PlaceILive does have some investors and sponsors, it is nice to see this kind of tool coming from somewhere with essentially non-commercial interests in selling you on any one particular neighborhood, and PlaceILive intends to provide an impartial source of data for government decision-making in addition to that by private individuals.
PlaceILive is initially limited to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London, and Berlin, but you can be sure that once the technologies and data-gathering processes are established, other cities will follow in short order. After all, the data already exists, it just needs to be made useful by this interface. Happy browsing!