Neighboroo.com digs far deeper than “red state” or “blue state” in mapping statistics for a given area.
The Web site presents vast volumes of U.S. public data in color-coded interactive maps that are powered by the Google Maps platform. Users can search in a specific area for information about home prices, apartment rental prices, cost of living, commute time, and other demographic data. There are plans to add property tax information, too.
Other information at the site includes political affiliation, racial composition, population density, unemployment, tax rates, household income, elementary school rank, crime, and lifestyle. Areas on the map are color-coded based on the statistical data for that area. Users can also view the maps as satellite imagery.
Neighboroo creators seek a broad audience for the site, and they are planning to add other layers of data. The site is free to use and does not require any registration. It is one of a growing number of sites that incorporate mapping tools to simplify searches and provide data in a visual form.
The site features some display ads and also contextual ads by Google AdSense. Its mapping tools are powered by Google Maps.
Travis Chow, a Neighboroo founder who has dabbled in real estate investing, said he has been intrigued with trends for a long time. “I always wanted to know more about the neighborhood,” he said. “My passion has always been trends and data.”
So after tinkering with the idea for awhile, about eight months ago Chow devoted himself to the creation of a Web-based statistical storehouse. He teamed with a physicist friend and a group he describes as a “band of data geeks” to realize his vision, and Neighboroo.com went live about a month ago.
Most of the data at the site is from local, state and federal government sources, such as the Census Bureau. Users can type in a ZIP code or city to view local data.
The map centers on the selected area and a text bubble displays some basic information, such as the ZIP code, major city and metro area associated with the location. This bubble also offers some basic demographic information for the selected statistical category.
Users can click a link to see more detailed information. The site features a comparison of median home prices, median apartment rental costs, and cost of living by ZIP code, metro area, state and for the entire country. The site also offers Web links that point to information at specific map locations, and detailed explanations for each category of statistics.
Neighboroo developers are seeking experts in national or local trends to serve as “guroos” and share their knowledge with site users. The site “will soon offer a service for guroos around the nation to share their wonderful and fascinating knowledge,” according to a description at the site.
Chow said that while user-generated content can be valuable, the Neighboroo team wants to be “careful about what people put up there. We’re not going to open it to the public.” The guroos could be Census Bureau experts or employees for a company that studies real estate trends, for example, he said. “We want to keep it unbiased. We want to keep it accurate and relevant.”
That’s his overall vision for the site, too — “open and unbiased,” Chow said.
Even in this early phase of the site’s launch, he said he was “surprised to get so much feedback.” Site users have let them know when they have found data that seems to be inaccurate, he said — especially when it comes to map representations of political leanings for a particular area. “People really do care about how they’re represented,” he said.
Also, Chow said that the development team has received feedback about the site’s use of red and green shades for some of the maps — it doesn’t work very well for people who are red-green colorblind, and there are plans to change the color scheme for these maps.
Some real estate professionals have expressed an interest in hosting the statistical maps at their sites, Chow said, and the site also is intended to appeal to people who want to learn more about an area where they are moving, buying or renting real estate, opening a business, or traveling.
There are plans to update statistical information regularly at the site, Chow said, and to add new categories of statistical information.
Another site, HotPads.com, has incorporated Census data and other information — such as community information provided by user-generated encyclopedia site Wikipedia — into its real estate searches. Users can click an “i” symbol for a city, county or ZIP code area to view information on rental prices and properties, household income and per capita income, for example. Users can also view more detailed local statistics on people, housing and transportation.