Described as a "Yelp for neighborhoods," the new interactive website BlockAvenue aims to "dig up all the secrets you're searching for." The site uses more than 50 million data points of information on things like crime, sex offenders, restaurants, places of interest, and schools to give neighborhoods and blocks grades. Users can add comments and opinions, rating a specific point, like a cafe, or they can submit longer reviews for whole areas. The goal for the Cambridge-based company is to bring all of the information about a particular location and the impact of its surroundings into one easy-to-use resource. They want renters, potential homeowners, or visitors to be able to see "what the makeup is or where the trend is heading" at any time for any neighborhood.
BlockAvenue is very intuitive. Users simply type in an address, neighborhood, or city, then zoom and click on the data points. When zoomed out, you see the general grades, and zooming in breaks it down point-by-point. Since BlockAvenue is a new tool, there are bound to be some technical glitches. There are a few errors in south Central Park, where the larger zoomed-out map shows Fs inside the park, but when you zoom in, there's nothing to click on to tell you why it sucks. There's also a marker for "Midtown" inside the park, which we're pretty sure isn't correct.
The system is also very subjective. Take Times Square. It received an A from one person raving about its beauty and energy, but the general area of "Midtown" received an F by someone else complaining about how congested it is.
BlockAvenue is an interesting way to see a neighborhood overview, but as it stands right now, it's more of a map system showing restaurants and places of interest in an area, with reviews thrown in. Quite a few sex offenders are marked, but we saw no markers for any crimes. As the system grows and more users contribute, BlockAvenue has the potential to be a very useful website. But, like all sites with user reviews, the information could get bogged down with too many opinions.
· BlockAvenue [official]