The engineer is in City Tower Knowing that they are sitting on a gold mine of zoning and land data. After all, this is how a big data company based in Bellevue, Washington can help large companies understand the most cost-effective way to expand their business.
Five years ago, staff realized that these data might help solve one of the biggest social problems in American cities: affordable housing. The same information that can show where the company will build the next warehouse can also show the entire inventory of underutilized public land to housing non-profit organizations or city planners.
In addition, it can immediately show them how many people can be accommodated on each plot under the existing district.Today, the company launched a free demo website called people Show what the software can do in a way that strictly restricts access.
With the launch of the project, CityBldr is launching a campaign to allow companies to sponsor affordable housing non-profit organizations to provide full access to complete data that can reveal everything from simple housing results to the basis of long-term housing plans.
“We spent five years building Rosetta Stone Division,” said CEO and co-founder Bryan Copley.
City Tower “and we think it can really help change the number of available housing.”
These data may come in handy in Seattle in November. If sympathetic to Seattle’s initiative to be approved by voters in the next election, the city will need to build 2,000 homes in the next two years.
Copely said that CityBldr has compiled a large and extensive land database of 100 US cities, including 255 different zoning standards. In these cities, public data can show everything, including land valuations, plot sizes, current zoning, current conditions on the land, and how many people can be placed on the land under current regulations.
For land with multi-use zoning, users can click the parameters of single-family houses, townhouses, or multi-family houses to understand how many people or units the land can legally accommodate. City planners can find out in minutes how many people can fit on all available public land within the city.
After consulting with urban planning experts at the University of California, Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University—Harvard experts actually helped put the database together—Copley said the search was limited to public land for two reasons: It may be easier for cities to unload underutilized land to non-profit organizations, and cities sometimes do not have an easy way to track their own land inventory.
In other words, the database could one day be made available to private land, he said.
“We built it so that people can use it,” Copely said. “You can’t let a private sale. Some people just want to sit on the ground. But public land may be different.”
Copely said that CityBldr representatives have spoken with housing officials and government leaders in Seattle and across the country, and the reception has been enthusiastic. He said that the cost of acquiring data for each city will reach 10,000 US dollars, which is what the company pays for sponsoring non-profit organizations.
He said that, ideally, CityBldr would not make a dime on Public. The plan is to raise funds to pay for five full-time employees to help housing non-profit organizations and cities gain insight into the data, while constantly updating the database as local regulations and land inventories change.
“The dream,” Copely said, “is to achieve zero cost-wise. We do not do this for money.”