On EveryBlock and the Open Data Movement

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 5.41.42 PMToday marks the end of a website called EveryBlock.

I was lucky enough to be a part of the team that first made that site. Here’s a post I wrote on our launch day explaining what it meant to be a meaningful contributor to the project. I had been obsessed with municipal data for years, and EveryBlock allowed me to put my obsession into action. I am forever grateful.

My four years of work there were seminal. I got to work with amazing people— Adrian HolovatyWilson Miner, and Paul Smith— on something that mattered. I feel very close to them every day. And later I got to work with Joseph Kocherhans,Paul Wilson, Becca Martin, Brian Addison, and (one of my favorite people ever) Sandor Weisz.

From jumpstreet, my job at EveryBlock was about data. Get moar data. Cold calls to Mayor offices, advanced Google searches, complicated queries of databases hidden in plain sight, FOIA requests, follow-up calls, flights on airplanes, knocking on doors in municipal buildings. Whatever. Get moar data.

And I got to be a crazy person from the future, calling up a public information officer of the building department of a city of 8 million people and asking him to send me his building permits. He asked me, “which one?”.  I said, “all of them”. He said “what date?” I said, “all of them”. There was a very long silence on the line, then he told me I was crazy, and basically hung up.

The municipal government of New York doesn’t think I’m crazy anymore. Anyone can download what I asked for in a single click now. In my role at the Smart Chicago Collaborative, I continue this work, thinking about how to make data useful to humans.

We won the open data movement. Now we have to win the municipal products movement.

There is so much more work to do.  Most of this data sits on digital shelves, waiting for people to make businesses and serve residents of cities. We still struggle to find ways to make popular products out of this stuff. Last Friday Smart Chicago launched a project devoted to engaging with Chicago residents to test out new civic apps. Let’s keep working. We’re not done yet.

Boss Second Season Filming Locations, Chicago

Socrata filter for Boss filmingsNote: this is a post about civic data and the promise of machine learning disguised as a post about a really good TV show. Here are some more unnaturally-detailed posts along the same lines as this one and a good primer on the overall concept here.

I like Boss, the Kelsey Grammer vehicle about a ruthless Chicago mayor. Good show, and season two begins this Friday night, August 17. I also like civic data, like Public Right-of-Way Use Permits published by the City of Chicago.

I was recently reviewing this new data set and saw that film permits are a subset of Public Right-of-Way Permits, so I made a Custom view using the Socrata data display system to filter for only permits related to the filming of Boss. I used the Permit Type Code of “Filming”, the Company of Boss Kane Productions (they even have a Yelp page), and a Date of after 3/1/12 (because otherwise I’d be catching Season 1 filmings as well).

Next I exported this data and imported it into a Google Fusion Table so I could make a quick map. Here it is:

Boss Season 2 Filmings

So let’s take a look at some of the locations to see what to look out for come Friday.

One chunk of filmings centers just east of Douglas Park, near 16th and Rockwell. There are 12 filmings up and down California, including down to the Cook County Jail and Courthouse at 26th and California. This set of filmings is at or near the Cinespace Chicago studio.

Boss Season 2 Filmings Near Doglas Park in Chicago

This is also the address listed for Boss Kane Productions, which (I think) is where the interior action is shot. My guess is when they need a generic outdoor location, they pull a film permit to go outside and shoot.

Boss Kane Productions Location

There’s another set of filmings (six) in the Pilsen area, scattered around Halsted, 18th, and Roosevelt.

Boss Season 2 Filmings in Pilsen

One of the locations is 1733 S. Halsted, which is the address for Kristoffer’s Cake and Bakery.

Kristoffer's Cafe & Bakery

There’s a set of eight filmings in the Kenwood neighborhood, most of them in a particularly green region bounded by Drexel, 47th, Lake Park, and 50th. This includes one permit at the Drexel Towers, 4825 South Drexel Boulevard.

Boss Season 2 Filmings in Kenwood

Satellite view of Boss Season 2 Filmings in Kenwood

There is a single shoot at 1035 E. 67th Street, which is the address for Oak Woods Cemetery. My assumption is that the scene at the end of this trailer was shot here.

Kitty O'Neil of Boss

There are two film permits in the Illinois Medical District, including one at 1750 West Harrison Street, the Rush University Medical Center Jelke Building. Here it is from 1960:

Rush University Medical Center Jelke Building

On July 10 of this year they worked on Northerly Island.

I would also expect to see a shot this year with Buckingham Fountain (500 S. Columbus Drive) in the background. Maybe it will be a Married With Children spoof.

There’s a permit for 125 E. Monroe, which is basically the Crown Fountain.

They’ve also got the obligatory City Hall shoot (121 N. LaSalle), a “beneath the train tracks” shot on Lake Street between Wabash and State, and two downtown shots at Monroe and Dearborn. You can also expect to see a shot of 225 N. Michigan, a nifty Mies Van der Rohe edifice. At some point there should be a riverwalk shot on or about 70 E. Wacker. Here’s Boss Kane in the City Hall Roof Garden from a new season trailer:

Boss Season 2 Filming: City Hall Roof Garden

Here’s the tracks:

Boss Season 2 Filming: Under the tracks

And looks like there’s a scuffle at Monroe and Dearborn:

Boss Season 2 Filming

Speaking of the river, there is a permit at 333 N. Canal, the Riverbend Condominiums, and one at 300 North Canal, Left Bank at Kinzie Station. I’ll be looking for those exteriors in upcoming episodes— let me know if I miss it (@juggernautco).

Since there is a permit for 702 W. Fulton Market, we can expect to see some dining going on at Carnivale at some point this season (careful– restaurant Web site sound explosion upon click).

There’s a clump of filmings around Franklin and Chicago:

Boss 2 Season Filmings Near Franklin and Chicago

If you see a set of row houses, that would be the Cabrini Row Houses north of Chicago Avenue– four filmings there, including 850 North Cleveland Avenue.

Boss Season 2 filming: 850 N. Cleveland

This looks like T.I. is out in front of that place:

Boss Season 2 Filming: Cabrini Row Houses

There are four Gold Coast filmings, including one outside of the Drake Hotel.

Boss Season 2 Filmings: Gold Coast

West of the Kennedy, there’s a single filming at 2214 W. Walton

Boss Season 2 Filming: 2214 W. Walton

…and one at 835 N. Wood.

Boss Season 2 Filming: 835 N. Wood

All of this info was made possible by civic data, Google search, and a connection to the Internet. What if there was a machine that could do this for me? God bless us all.

Data, Tools,  and Methods


SCREENCAST: Stop Work Order at The Wrigleyville Hotel, 3469 North Clark St., Chicago

Here's a screencast with some info on a Stop Work Order issued for The Wrigleyville Hotel, 3469 North Clark St., Chicago.

According to Chicagoist, this place is going to be 5 stories when it's finished.

The issue is that it is currently three stories, but they apparently did not have the exterior demolition permit necessary to tear off the roof and build upwards from there.

Stuff covered in this screencast:

This is a new thing I'm doing– mini-investigations via screencast– let me know what you think!

Stop Work Order at The Wrigleyville Hotel, 3469 North Clark St., Chicago from Daniel X. O'Neil on Vimeo.

Wrigley Field Work: New Banners Out Front, Refreshed Scoreboard, New Billboard in Left Field, Batting Cage Improvement, New Umpire Dressing Room, and Redone Restrooms for Opening Day

So I've been doing some knocking around Wrigley Field (1060 W. Addison), IRL and on
the Internet, for a while now, and I have some things to report.

Since Wrigley Field is an historical landmark in Chicago, they have
get special landmark permits to do any work there. Here's a list
of all landmark permits issued by the City of Chicago in January 2010

Tonight I went to meeting of the East Lake View Neighbors (ELVN) to
talk about EveryBlock and how it can be useful to them and other
community-focused groups. Mike Lufrano of the Cubs front office also spoke,
giving the neighbors an update on the upcoming season. He hinted at
"festive design work for Opening Day and Opening Week" featuring the
manager and players will be placed. He said this new stuff would be
"design/ pictures/ banners" on the stadium.

I'm pretty sure
this stuff will go here, above Gate F, right at the corner of Clark St.
Addison St.

Could go here as well:

Wrigley Field Work: Scaffolding at Gate D

couldn't find a spot-on permit for this work, but there is a permit for
the scoreboard. Permit # 2010–0024 has the following

Exterior: Scoreboard repairs and remove
precast panels and install fencing and renovate sign on back of
scoreboard as per Landmarks stamped plans dated 14 January 2010.
Flagpole and lights on roof to remain in place during renovation. Metal
letters to be salvaged and reinstalled. If letter are beyond repair,
Historic Preservation staff to be notified immediately and approve
fabrication of new letters. Neon tubes to be salvaged and reused.  New
neon to match existing in color, dimension, location, and design. All
removed elements to be salvaged and stored until the reinstallation is
complete. Paint analysis to be submitted to Historic Preservation staff
for review. New paint to match original subject to Historic Preservation
staff review and approval. No other work allowed.

some specifics right there. Here's a view of the exterior of the scoreboard:

Wrigley Field Work: Scaffolding Behind the Bleachers, Sheffield and Waveland

Lufrano also mentioned a permit
request for new sign in Left Field. He said (and for all you serious Wrigley watchers, I may be getting this wrong, so feel free to
correct me) that the sign will be placed "in the only place where they
don't have an agreement with owners" of rooftops across the street.

map of the Wrigley Field business licenses Oddly
enough, you can see in a map
of the Wrigley Field business licenses
(yes, there is a special
type of license issued by the City for Wrigley Field rooftops), there is
a gap in left field, right between seven licenses and two other
licenses. I'm guessing that's where the sign will go.

"It's all about the revenue", said Lufrano.
He also said that the sign will be understated, much like "the Under
Armor signs on the outfield doors
". One reason he said that they are
doing this is that the Cubs "the only team in baseball that gets zero
public money."

He also mentioned an improved batting cage. He
described a cramped, insufficient practice experience in the existing
space, where a net comes down to protect a television set that the
batter is hitting toward. Permit #100326340 covers "Interior only:
Batting cage enclosure per Landmarks stamped plans dated 1/15/10. No
exterior work permitted with ths". There are some spelling issues over
there at the Landmarks permitting unit or with the permittee; not sure
which one.

He didn't mention the umpire dressing room, which is
covered under Permit #2010-15, with the description, "Interior only: 
Convert existing storage room to umpire's locker room. No exterior
alterations permitted with this approval."

Lastly, Lufrano
also mentioned that they are doing work on the restrooms in the
ballpark. He specifically called out adding capacity in the women's
restrooms. Would love to get some opening day reports on that, because
all I could find was Permit #100326273, calling for "Interiors only:
Men's restroom renovation per Landmarks stamped plans dated 1/15/10. No
exterior atlerations permitted with this approval." (sic)

If at this point you're sick of Wrigley Field and Chicago, take a gander at this kick-ass Brutalist bench in Boston:

Brutalist Bench in Boston