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Walk Score gets into crowdsourcing

Photos and comments aimed at surfacing best, worst neighborhood features

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

To help users better gauge the vibe of neighborhoods where they might want to live, Seattle-based developer Walk Score is adding crowdsourced photos and comments to its quantitative scores, maps and lists of amenities.

The service expands Walk Score’s traditional focus of neighborhood walkability ratings to give users an insider’s look into neighborhood characteristics.

Founded in 2007, Walk Score has made a name for itself in real estate circles with walkability ratings. The ratings are generated automatically for properties in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand by analyzing their proximity to mass transit, parks, restaurants, cafes and other amenities.

Acknowledging that "great neighborhoods are more than numbers," Walk Score has launched a new iPhone app and website that employ user-generated notes and snapshots generated by "local experts" to highlight outstanding features — or problem areas — of a neighborhood. Walk Score considers users local experts when they have contributed 10 or more photos in an area.

Users can now use Walk Score to alert others to problem spots such as dangerous intersections and high-crime areas, or point them to local businesses, public art, architecture and green spaces they love. Users will also be able to comment on the pictures and reviews posted by others.

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Walk Score CEO Josh Herst

"We wanted to move beyond the quantitative aspects of our service and more into the aesthetics and livability of an area," said Walk Score CEO Josh Herst.

The crowdsourced features of a neighborhood can be viewed as clickable items or in slide-show mode, which gives a user a neighborhood tour of sorts. The featured items include user-generated photos and text with a display of the distance from a user’s targeted address.

"The cactus room in the conservatory is a dry sunny place to hang out during the chilly Seattle winter!" reads one of the featured posts provided by Walk Score as an example of the service.

The quote, displayed at the bottom of a cactus-strewn greenhouse image, was preceded by the sharer’s name. Text describing where the image was taken and how far it was from the targeted address show up at the top of the image.

It’s a great opportunity for real estate professionals to show their knowledge and engagement in a neighborhood, Herst said.

Other Walk Score services include Neighborhood Flier, which shows a map of nearby amenities for any property a real estate agent is showing, and a Custom Commute Report service that estimates commutes for any address, by car, public transit, bike or foot.

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