But my neighbor is an anteater

This is a good idea, but in practice it isn’t terribly accurate. The idea is to tell you whether the area in which you live is walker-friendly – how many stores, restaurants, bars, etc. are close to you? Unfortunately, Google’s database, the basis of the Walkscore algorithm, seems deficient. I live amidst a veritable explosion of eateries here in DC – plus, I’m within easy walking distance of the National Zoo. Lions and tigers! Pandas and elephants! A flippin’ baby giant anteater! That’s gotta be a triple walk score right there. Yet my score is only 82/100 – a B. Why?

So then I looked at the sleepy town where I used to live. My old house had a score of 60. WHAT? There was nothing to do there! That’s why I left!

A quick check of the destinations listed explained it all. I used to live very close to, yet inexplicably did not visit, the Young Marines, Municipal Building Maintenance, Municipal Park Maintenance, the Department of Fisheries, several long-defunct libraries and cafes, a catering establishment, and eight schools. And then there’s the slight problem of the RIVER between my house and half the proposed destinations. It’s hard to carry groceries while snorkeling. (These are all known issues with Walkscore.)

No algorithm is perfect, but Walkscore will not tell you if you live in a “good” neighborhood. Only visiting can tell you that. And I’m going to go visit the giant baby anteater.

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5 Responses to But my neighbor is an anteater

  1. Pingback: Walk Score « Diary of a Dandelion Diva

  2. adam p adam says:

    That’s a damn interesting idea though – to quantify the walkability (or other qualities) of a place based on data gathered from the internet. Seems that the data used here is simply inadequate to tell anything sensible. But could it be expanded to include a larger and more complex set of information like, say, the internet?

  3. adam p adam says:

    And is that really a giant baby anteater… or just a regular baby giant anteater? anyways – say hi… wish I had neighbours like that too.

  4. cicada says:

    I know, I know, it’s a baby giant anteater (not vice versa). I caught the typo and hoped no one else would, but I should have known better.

    As for Google Maps, I think what needs to happen is some moderated form of Wiki process. Because when you run across an error (such as a business that’s defunct, or a typo in an address) there is no way to directly correct it in Google Maps. My understanding is that businesses can correct it, and you may be able to report the error and request a correction, but it seems unfortunate that the editing power of the vast number of users of Google Maps can’t be exploited to improve the system – locals in effect sharing their specialized local knowledge with other locals via Google. Obviously it would need to be a controlled process, but it seems inefficient that I can see errors (two just today) yet not do anything to prevent others from being misled by those errors.

  5. adam p adam says:

    an urban-space-wiki sounds extremely interesting.

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