What is EveryBlock?
EveryBlock is the best way to follow neighborhood news and connect with your neighbors in 19 U.S. cities.
Our goal is to help you be a better neighbor, by giving you frequently updated neighborhood news, plus tools to have meaningful conversations with neighbors.
For more, see our about page.
What problems does EveryBlock solve?
First, there's no good place to keep track of everything happening in your neighborhood, from news coverage to events to photography. We try to collect all of the news and civic goings-on that have happened recently in your city, and make it simple for you to keep track of news in particular areas.
Second, there's no good way to post messages to your neighbors online. Facebook lets you post messages to your friends, Twitter lets you post messages to your followers, but no well-used service lets you post a message to people in a given neighborhood.
What can users find on EveryBlock?
See What's on the site? on our about page.
What can readers NOT find on EveryBlock?
- We only include news that’s relevant at the level of neighborhood or city block. Anything that applies to a larger area (e.g., the entire city, or a New York City borough) is outside the scope of our site.
- We focus on news, as opposed to static data. On EveryBlock, you’ll find a list of recent restaurant inspections near you, but you won’t find a list of the train stations or schools near you. We’re a news site, not a city directory. Roughly speaking, we’re interested in local data that has a date and a specific location.
- Also, our policy is to avoid publishing information that identifies addresses of people, for privacy reasons. Hence, we don’t publish sex offender data, divorce records, etc. The exception to this policy is mainstream news articles; if a newspaper publishes a person’s address, our system will detect the address in the article and link to it.
How does EveryBlock get its news?
In a lot of different ways!
First, neighbor messages and comments come from other EveryBlock users. Anybody who has signed up can post messages to neighborhoods and post comments.
Otherwise, the other news comes as a result of a lot of work we've done. Each type of information we publish (crime, media mentions, etc.) comes from a specific source, with a specific method. We obtain some data by parsing government Web sites and crawling the Web; in other cases, governments send us data that isn’t available online. In the case of media mentions, we automatically crawl hundreds of sites and index articles by location.
In each case, we document where we get the information and how often it’s updated. We also try to explain parts of the information that don’t immediately make sense, like government designations and codes. To find out more about any news type on EveryBlock, visit the "All news types" page for your city (the link is at the bottom of each page) and click the news type you’re interested in.
Who is EveryBlock’s intended audience?
Any person who lives or works in the cities we cover. Our goal is to make a site that has so much useful, relevant and interesting news and discussion that you simply must check it regularly.
How new/old is this project?
We've been live since early 2008. Here are the significant events in our project’s history, so far:
- In July 2007, we started working.
- On Jan. 23, 2008, we launched our first three cities: Chicago, New York and San Francisco.
- On June 30, 2008, we launched sites for Charlotte and Philadelphia.
- On Aug. 18, 2008, we launched sites for Boston, Seattle and Washington, DC.
- On Aug. 27, 2008, we launched a site for Los Angeles.
- On Oct. 30, 2008, we launched sites for Miami-Dade and San Jose.
- On June 8, 2009, we launched beta sites for Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit and Houston.
- On Aug. 10, 2009, we were acquired by msnbc.com.
- On March 25, 2009, we launched a site for Portland.
- On March 21, 2011, we launched a major redesign that changed the focus of the site from a one-way news feed to a two-way community platform.
- On September 18, 2012, we launched sites for Austin and Denver.
- On September 25, 2012, we launched a site for Pittsburgh.
- On February 7, 2013, we shut down.
For site help, see our separate help page. Here are answers to a few general questions about the site:
How can I keep updated with the latest news around my block/neighborhood?
If you don’t have time to visit your EveryBlock page on a regular basis, you can sign up for our email alerts or RSS feeds, which we offer for every block, neighborhood and ZIP code in each EveryBlock city. This means you can get a custom-tailored daily email for your block, containing the latest news and discussions that have happened near your followed places.
To sign up for email alerts for a given geographic area, create an account and choose the places you'd like to follow. Then visit your "Manage email" page and make sure you've designated you want to get the email with news from your followed places.
Registration is free, and emails are sent either daily or weekly — your choice.
Similarly, to access our block- and neighborhood-specific RSS feeds, click the "RSS" link on a place's page. If you’re not sure what RSS is, visit the What is RSS? site.
How can I keep updated with the latest EveryBlock features?
Visit the EveryBlock blog to read about the latest features we’ve added to our site. We’re a small, fast-moving team, and we make improvements on a weekly, even daily, basis. The blog has an RSS feed, too, if you’re into that.
Why do your maps look different than maps on other sites?
Rather than using a third-party map provider, such as Google Maps, we’ve designed our own maps to fit better with our design and our custom data-visualization needs.
Third-party providers such as Google Maps do not allow the level of design control that we’d like. If we used Google Maps, our maps would include one-way-street markings, building outlines, address ranges and other cruft that we believe gets in the way of the data. Google’s maps are great for Google’s purposes (driving directions, etc.), but not as great for ours.
Here’s a technical article that Paul from the EveryBlock team has written about the subject: Take Control of Your Maps.
Why are some news items on EveryBlock not displayed on the maps?
Sometimes our system cannot determine where a given address lies on the map. In technical terms, this means some items cannot be "geocoded."
Whenever this happens, we still publish the data, but it doesn’t appear on our maps, nor does it appear on block, neighborhood or ZIP code pages. We’ve been improving our geocoding ability so that this problem happens less frequently.
Who is behind EveryBlock?
EveryBlock is operated by a small team in Chicago. You can read more about us on our about page.
How can I contact the team?
Just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the convenient feedback form at the bottom of almost any EveryBlock page.
Which cities are you in?
You’ll get the most up-to-date answer by visiting our home page, which lists all of the EveryBlock cities.
Which cities are you planning to add?
We don’t comment about future cities, mostly because we don’t want to raise expectations too high.
Will you please bring EveryBlock to my city?
Cast your vote by using the "Vote via Twitter" button on our homepage. We’ll use this feedback to help guide our growth plans.
Why haven’t you covered any suburban locations?
It would likely take just as much effort to add, say, Oak Park, Illinois, than it would to add Houston, so it’s a question of bang-for-the-buck. But, with that said, we would indeed like to experiment with some suburban locations and smaller towns, so stay tuned.
Does EveryBlock have plans to move beyond the U.S.A.?
Sure, we wouldn’t rule it out.
How is EveryBlock funded?
Is EveryBlock a non-profit?
No. We’re part of NBC News, which is a for-profit news company.
Does EveryBlock accept advertising?
We are open to experimenting with useful, nonintrusive advertisements. Please get in touch with us if you’re interested.
How should journalists use EveryBlock?
As the leading neighborhood news site, we encourage you to claim your publication's feed through our publisher program (see next question), which will help to increase the number of eyeballs on your stories. If you don't see the feed, please contact us to be added. You can use EveryBlock to source new story ideas from real-time neighbor discussions in those areas that matter most to you. We just ask that you cite EveryBlock as your news source, and include a deep link to us within your story. We're also open to partnering with bloggers to co-host local meet-ups. Please drop us a note if you're interested or if have other partnership ideas in-mind.
Does EveryBlock partner with media outlets and/or bloggers?
Yes! We are definitely interested in partnering with existing media outlets and bloggers in the current EveryBlock cities. If you see that we’re already using your feed, we encourage you to claim it and enjoy some added benefits by joining our publisher program. Simply follow these steps:
- Choose a city from our homepage.
- Click "Media mentions" from the list of news types in the footer.
- Click "View all sources" from the right-hand sidebar.
- Choose your publication from the list.
If you don’t see your feed, but would like us to add it, please contact us. In addition, please get in touch with us with any partnership thoughts, even if we don’t yet cover your city.
Reuse of EveryBlock data
Should I use EveryBlock’s numbers for comparisons or research?
We don’t really recommend it. Most of the public information we publish comes from government data that is far from perfect. Data can change after original publication — often after we have the ability to know whether it changed. In fact, many agencies note that they don’t ensure the accuracy or completeness of their information, and use words such as “snapshot” to describe what they display at any given time.
Also, the figures published on EveryBlock might not include all data provided by public agencies. Say you’re trying to learn about all the crimes in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood in June 2009. If we at EveryBlock can’t decipher an address listed with a crime report that occurred in Georgetown — e.g., the police didn’t note whether a crime in the 3100 block of Q Street occurred in the northwest quadrant of the city or the southeast quadrant (both of which have 3100 blocks of Q Street) — we can’t map it, and it won’t show up with the rest of the crimes reported in Georgetown.
Finally, we at EveryBlock occasionally have technical issues that prevent us from publishing every record. We do our very best to avoid this problem, but it happens every now and then — and even if it happens once, it means the data isn’t complete.
Can I get a complete set of records from EveryBlock, say, as an Excel spreadsheet?
See the answer to the "API" question below.
Does EveryBlock have an API?
Yes! We make our data available in a few different ways:
- We offer customizable RSS feeds for every block, ZIP code and neighborhood in each EveryBlock city. For information on how to access a particular RSS feed, see the answer to "How can I keep updated with the latest news around my block/neighborhood?" above.
- For more advanced partners, we offer a partner API that includes raw data in machine-readable format.
What can and can’t I do with EveryBlock’s RSS feeds?
We intend our RSS feeds to be used for personal, noncommercial use, so you can keep track of news and discussions in your neighborhood.
With that said, we know there’s some demand for embedding our data on third-party Web sites. For instance, you might want to embed our neighborhood-specific RSS feed into the sidebar of your neighborhood blog. We want to encourage that sort of informal linking because it helps you (it gives you content) and it helps us (it helps spread the word about EveryBlock). Here’s our policy:
- You may display the title of each RSS entry, as long as you link it directly to the appropriate page for that entry on EveryBlock.com.
- You may not embed the actual content of each RSS entry — that is, everything other than the headline of the RSS entry.
- You may not scrape our data wholesale and redisplay it on a third-party Web site.
What technologies does EveryBlock use?
We use Amazon Web Services, specifically EC2, for our server needs.
Questions journalists like to ask us
Is this journalism?
Rather than arguing over semantics, we prefer to spend our time building a Web site that people find useful — whether the academics call it "journalism" or not.
Is EveryBlock the future of news?
If it is, it’s only one small part of the future of news. As mentioned above, we have a very narrow focus. It would be a pity if people used us as their only news source.
How did you come up with the idea for EveryBlock?
In May 2005, EveryBlock founder Adrian Holovaty launched a site called chicagocrime.org, which was one of the original "Google Maps mashups." That site included a page for every block in the city, with a list of crimes that had been reported on that block. Adrian thought that concept of "a page for every block" was quite powerful and quickly found himself wanting to add more data to chicagocrime.org, but he never got around to it, as chicagocrime.org was just a side project created for the fun of it.
The opportunity to take chicagocrime.org to the next level came in late 2006, when Adrian applied to the Knight News Challenge, a journalism innovation contest put on by the Knight Foundation. They were looking to fund new ideas in the world of journalism, and they liked the EveryBlock idea, so Adrian was awarded a $1.1 million grant over two years, with the requirement that the site’s code be open-sourced at the end of the grant period. With that financial stability, he was able to leave his job at washingtonpost.com to work on EveryBlock full time, and five other full-time team members have joined since.
Do you have a nice, short blurb that describes EveryBlock?
Yes! Here you go:
EveryBlock is the best way to follow neighborhood news and connect with your neighbors in 19 U.S. cities.
Here’s a slightly longer one:
EveryBlock is the best way to follow neighborhood news and connect with your neighbors in 19 U.S. cities. Our goal is to help you be a better neighbor, by giving you frequently updated neighborhood news, plus tools to have meaningful conversations with neighbors.