San Francisco launches new open data housing standard and neighborhood app


San Francisco civic startup, Appallicious launched a new application for housing at the US Conference of Mayors Annual meeting, held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The application is in partnership with the city of San Francisco, California and was presented with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “Neighborhood Score” is a first-of-its-kind open data app that shows residents how their neighborhoods rank, down to the city block, on issues including public safety, quality of schools, crime rates, air quality, walkability, and access to public transportation.

The app uses federal, state and city open data, and uses the new open data housing feed that will be unveiled with Code For America at the conference. Appallicious already had an existing relationship with the city having developed its Rec & Park app which has been noted as one of the 7 open data apps every city should have.

“We knew they had a need in San Francisco,” explains Appallicious co-founder and CEO, Yo Yoshida in an interview with CivSource. “We’ve had a lot of support from the city on the app so far, and we are talking to other major cities at the conference about providing a similar service for them.”

For this app, they are working with the city’s housing data to essentially create public health ratings for rental properties. Residents will be able to see any evidence of housing violations, infestations, crime data and other factors that are important to housing decisions and in many cases are available to people buying homes but not renting. The availability of the data itself is also new for the city, and may serve as a model for other cities.

“I think there are always going to be slumlords, but this will make it more difficult,” he says.

According to Yoshida, the Appallicious team evaluates a given city’s current GIS and housing data and from that can set up the application rather quickly – within one to two weeks. The app itself is offered through Apple’s app store, so review and availability through Apple takes a little bit of additional time, but updates are then available in the app itself.

Appallicious has plans to create an ecosystem of apps around city services so that cities can offer a comprehensive range of options online and on mobile. They are also looking at strategic partnerships with other civic startups that provide complimentary services.

“We like to see cities that already have bits and pieces of what we can offer in the app because it shows that they are at least making movement. A lot of cities have hackathons, but that results in one-off projects that make a great PR piece, but we want to do something that is more sustainable and I think a lot of cities are realizing that they need to create sustainable resources,” Yoshida says.