App Locally

There’s been some grumbling on the web about neighborhood information services such as NextDoor — the gravamen is that such services are inherently racist, or foster racism.

There’s a solution. Move to a different neighborhood. I live on the South Side of Chicago and while I wouldn’t call the NextDoor service here spellbinding, you don’t see messages from people freaking out because they saw a black person drive by. The astonishing reason behind this is that 80 percent of the people in the neighborhood are themselves black. Instead, you have requests for information about house painters and dog walkers, announcements of festivals, complaints about noise, calls to pester the alderman about this or that traffic issue. Normal people dealing with normal stuff. Some lifestyle scuffles, but Pantone numbers don’t enter into it.

It’s not the apps that “have a racism problem.” It’s the composition of the neighborhoods. Do something about that before you blame the software designers. Or have the apps become the reality itself?


One thought on “App Locally

  1. I have a little knowledge on the subject through working with my brother on MLS software reviews. The ground rule is that any data or calculated score that can assist someone in redlining will get you a visit from HUD or DOJ. “Safety” data that uses race as one of its components cannot be made available to the consumer. Some app companies got into significant trouble for this. In the case of the app developers, the net effect of “safety” scores overlaid on a GPS map or as walking directions gave users a way to bypass minority neighborhoods entirely. Such neighborhoods’ political representatives do not want to see them become isolated islands completely bypassed by outside automobile and foot traffic.

Comments are closed.