Lithuanian startup PlaceILive wants to offer a crowdsourced and open data review site for city neighborhoods, including a Life Quality Index API that can be used by real estate agents.
PlaceILive takes information from a range of open data sources, including Socrata city-cataloged data, data from transport departments, and census demographic data, to create city profiles for New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London and Berlin. Using its own aggregated scoring method that takes into account quality-of-life issues such as crime rate and access to amenities, PlaceILive creates a quality-of-life score (Life Quality Index, or LQI). Developers can use the PlaceILive API to retrieve an aggregated LQI score for the neighborhood of any address and granular scores ranking specific city characteristics like transport accessibility, health, daily life, safety, and sports and leisure.
For now, PlaceILive is targeting real estate businesses in the hope that many could include an LQI score with their property listings. Such businesses would eventually pay for access to the PlaceILive API (it is currently free) or perhaps for access to a premium level of service such as the crowdsourced reviews and ratings of neighborhoods that are increasingly being added by the estimated 100,000 monthly users of the PlaceILive platform.
Other use cases could include adding LQI scores to apartment and holiday accommodation sites, hospitality venues, and event and travel sites that may want to provide an extra form of social proof to show potential customers that they will be safe and close to key amenities when they visit an area.
The PlaceILive website includes more detailed data access that is not available as yet via the API. The Web browser interface allows users to choose a range of characteristics and see them plotted on a map. For example, users can identify all of the medical centers in a city district or select multiple amenities of interest such as farmers markets, coffee shops and libraries.
Ideally, if this sort of data were also available via API, the use case opportunities would expand dramatically. The mapping of census characteristics, amenities and quality-of-life scores could enable developers to create applications that help businesses identify where to locate in a city district; empower local citizens to advocate for fresh food access or leisure amenities in their neighborhoods; let city governments assess their policy and program initiatives according to residential uptake; or enable education providers to identify where to situate training opportunities. But for now, PlaceILive is focusing on its core value proposition to ensure that it can do that well.
“The end-to-end solution that we offer is to help people find a place to live,” says Derk Steemers, CMO at PlaceILive. “We want to give people the ultimate information before they choose where to live. In addition to the data endpoints, we source local reviews ourselves, as we feel that customers want that community aspect from our product. It is much more trustworthy than just crawling for data.”
While Steemers sees PlaceILive’s business model focused on real estate, he says the startup is hoping developers will make use of the API in related industries:
Obviously real estate agents are our high-value customer/industry vertical. We are very open-minded with industry verticals and specialities that are slightly away from that but definitely related to what we are doing. For New York, we already have up to 900,000 addresses, and that goes for all of our cities. We created this platform and we want to see where people are taking it. We see the real estate sector picking it up, and we want to become better at what we are doing now, and anyone who comes along with a great idea, we are happy to work with.
How ready the market is for such a product remains uncertain. Last year, URBAN4M released the aboutPLACE API product aiming to provide a similar service for the Miami real estate market, and hopefully scaling to other cities. It has since taken down its first API and is inviting developers to register for a forthcoming replacement API product release.
PlaceILive is focusing on the social platform component of its service. By adding property listings to its website, the company is hopeful it can spark more user reviews about the surrounding neighborhoods people are visiting when looking to buy a home or move.
“Our current API is the LQI score, and it is extremely easy to implement,” Steemers says.
The API documentation includes a code snippet for retrieving an icon with the LQI for the neighborhood embedded in the graphic:
The API is version 1 and offers calls for identifying the LQI for neighborhoods searched by street address or geolocation (latitude and longitude).