Vacant Building Finder - Chicago
October 10, 2011 9:58 PM   Subscribe

Vacant Building Finder - Chicago
There are more than 14,000 reports of vacant and abandoned buildings in Chicago. Where are they? What is their status? Who is responsible? This building finder explores the data retrieved from the City of Chicago and attempts to answer these questions.

Vacant and abandoned buildings are a hot topic in Chicago, but it doesn't seem like much is really being done about them. Since Rahm Emanuel came in to office, however, the city has been on a bit of an open data kick, and calls to 311 regarding vacant buildings were among one of the many datasets it's released.

Vacant building data sounded interesting to me, so I downloaded it and threw it in to Google's Fusion Tables. Quickly, I realized: this data belongs on a map, and it needs to be easy to use and accessible to everyone. chicagobuildings.org is the result.

Every call made to 311 since January 2010 regarding vacant and abandoned buildings can be viewed on this map. Buildings can be filtered by location, date reported, if they are open and unsecured, have fire damage, or are in use by non-residents (gangs, children, homeless, etc.). Furthermore, the data is updated nightly by the city, and in turn, updated on this site by a script I wrote. This means that buildings that are reported today will show up on the map tomorrow. Also, while doing research on the city and county, I wrote an extensive FAQ on how vacant and abandoned buildings are handled and what laws are in place regarding them.

The site was built with HTML, CSS, Javascript and Google's Fusion Tables and Maps API. If you are interested, all the code for this project and the synchronization script is up on github.

Last but not least, this project is a finalist in the Apps for Metro Chicago contest, so if you think it's worthy, you can vote for it (step by step instructions for voting - it's a little convoluted) along with the other fine apps in the contest.
Role: Developer
posted by kakarott999 (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Hey there, my landlord is always looking for new buildings, but she's kind of tech-illiterate. I know she would like the ability to print out each hit, or even be able to select X number of results and have them printed as a list, so she can check them out.

Otherwise, looks really great! Thank you!
posted by Evilspork at 1:28 PM on October 11, 2011


thanks Evilspork - I plan on creating a more robust detail page for each building which may help with that. also thinking about making RESTful links so you can share your searches.
posted by kakarott999 at 2:48 PM on October 11, 2011


This is really great. I'm going to keep on eye on it to see how my neighborhood is doing. Vacant buildings are a great indicator of the stability of an area. Would everyblock.com be interested in this? Seems like a great addition to a site like that. Thanks for developing!
posted by yfatah at 9:00 AM on October 16, 2011


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