EveryBlock

The tools we’re building to find, aggregate and consume tailored, filtered and hyperlocalized information are still nascent. My motto: register for everything, see what sticks. In the last few months, I’ve been hooked to EveryBlock, which lets you dive deep via street address and zip code, or pull back for city-wide look. The amount of data that’s fine-sliced by location, neighborhood and zip code is just amazing. Beyond mentions of specific hoods in the mainstream media or blogs (including Yelp restaurant reviews), what EveryBlock does really well is provide a user-friendly, easy-to-digest interface for exploring public records: every building permit, restaurant inspection, police call, zoning agenda item and more. You can hone searches from a one- to eight-block radius around a particular address. And you can set daily/weekly email alerts, as well (I prefer a weekly update, but search via the site now and again).

There are handful of news-y aggregators like Placeblogger (which I’ve not tried) and Outside.In (which I enjoy). Much like the previously-reviewed PopUrls, Outside.In gives you one place to go (or email/RSS) to monitor a variety of outlets — in this case location-specific “news, views and conversations” slotted into categories like food, music, real estate. Good stuff, but a little different. With EveryBlock, you get the actual public records, which tend to provide the most interesting tidbits, for me at least. In addition to suspicious people alerts, car break-ins and violent crimes, I discovered a person on my block is intending to tear down a one-story, single-family home and build a four-story condo — yuck! (Beware: you really can spend hours with all this data.)

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The only catch: EveryBlock is only available in 11 cities (as I write), but more are certainly on the way. If you’re using any similar sites/services you love — especially those covering areas EveryBlock does not — please tell us about them in the comments below.

-- Steven Leckart