Big data helps us measure and predict consumer behavior, hurricanes and even pregnancies. It has revolutionized the way we access and use information. That being said, so far big data has not been able to tackle bigger issues like urbanization or improve the livability of cities.
A new startup, www.placeilive.com thinks big data should and can be used to measure livability. They aggregated open data from government institutions and social media to create a tool that can calculate just that. Dr. Anthony Townsend, author of Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for a new Utopia and an advisor to the company, says: ”PlaceIlive is poised to revolutionize the way people understand quality of life in cities.”
With this tool PlaceILive wants to help people and governments better understand their cities, so that they can make smarter decisions. Cities can be more sustainable, while its users save money and time when they are choosing a new home.
Not everyone is eager to read long lists of raw data. Therefore they created appealing user-friendly maps that visualize the statistics. Offering the user fast and accessible information on the neighborhoods that matter to them.
Another cornerstone of PlaceILive is their Life Quality Index: an algorithm that takes aspects like transportation, safety, and affordability into account. Making it possible for people to easily compare the livability of different houses. You can read more on the methodology and sourceshere.
In its beta form, the site features five cities—New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, London and Berlin. When you click on the New York portal, for instance, you can search for the place you want to know more about by borough, zip code, or address. Using New York as an example, it looks like this.
You can see the levels of unemployment,
if there are a lot of other married couples around
and look up where the most elementary schools are.
The creators recognize the data in the current version of the product have some gaps, but are highly convinced of its potential. When asked if they can predict how New York will look like in 10 years, CEO Sarunas Legeckas answers with a definite yes, but continues to explain that their current focus is on improving the existing data and visualizing it in the best way possible
Ultimately, PlaceILive believes they will be able to accurately measure and predict trends in livability using big data. “It sounds rather futuristic, but if we can predict consumer behavior, why not do it for cities? No one has successfully done it yet, but it is only impossible until someone does it,” says Sarunas Legeckas.