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NYC BigApps Contest and Walkshed New York

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Check out this great competition that we came across called NYC BigApps. It launched in October and public voting began yesterday. The competition “will reward the developers of the most useful, inventive, appealing, effective, and commercially viable applications for delivering information from the City of New York’s NYC.gov Data Mine to interested users.” Competition submissions ended December 8th and there are over 80 great apps for you to vote on. One we particularly liked is called Walkshed New York, which incorporates a wide array of decision factors in its walkability calculations. Similar in concept to the  popular Walk Score website, this new app improves on many of admitted limitations of Walk Score.

Walkshed New York lets users rank “decision factors” and assign positive and negative weights to each based on what components of neighborhood walk-ability are important to the user. Drawing from several data sources, including NYC Data Mine, Bing and InfoUSA, Walkshed NYC includes 17 decision factors in its walkability calculations, including proximity to subway stops, coffee shops, parks and playgrounds, restaurants and bars, farmer’s markets, grocery stores, cultural centers, libraries, post offices, and bookstores.

How does it work? The developer explains:

Walkshed friction calculations work by laying a grid of hundreds of thousands of cells over the entire city and determining how much “friction” a pedestrian would encounter for each cell. For example, cells on interstates and rivers have very high walking friction while cells on the street grid and parks have very low friction.

This has important effects on walkability. 1) Barriers will have a negative impact on walking distances since people typically don’t walk through highways or on water. 2) Street connectivity matters. Cul-de-sacs and winding suburban streets will have longer walking distances than an urban street grid.

By determining the walking friction of the entire city, we can calculate the optimal and actual walking distance from every point in the city to the closest amenity in every category.

Be sure to check out the NYC BigApps competition and vote for your favorite apps!

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