YES! Google will build an ultra high-speed broadband network in Kansas City, Kansas. According to their FAQs, construction will begin at the end of 2011 and service may be available to some residents as early as the first quarter of 2012.
They received applications from 1,100 communities across the US, including a number of nominations from our own neighborhoods in KC.
EveryBlock launched today. A good overview of the site is available at TechCrunch.
Here in the Loop (Chicago) it works really well. It has good content and useful information and it’s laid out in a very hierarchical manner, which makes it easy to navigate and find information. There is virtually no learning curve to get used to the site.
As I played with the site, I found myself having fun reading about the missed connections in the area and seeing photos that people had taken in my zip code. At the same time, I was alarmed to find out about the aggravated battery with a knife incident that occurred a few blocks away. When I read about this crime and others like it, I found myself wanting to comment on it to provide or get more information.
Bottom-line: The site does a great job of aggregating information from other sites, but will it become the source of information as well by allowing users to directly contribute? I hope so. Congratulations to the team.
EveryBlock was one of the big winners of the Knight News Challenge in 2007. eNeighbors has applied for funding for 2008.
My take on Eric Picard’s article on local advertising over on ClickZ:
1. Display advertising (i.e., print ads) in the local newspaper is still the best ad/marketing vehicle for a small business to reach its audience.
I’m fairly certain the numbers used by J.P. Morgan’s analysts include classified ad revenue. Classifieds have been decimated in local ad spend, but display ads in local newspapers are probably just as strong as they have ever been, despite shrinking circulation. This is mainly because there are no alternatives for local businesses, including local affiliates of national brands (e.g., local auto dealers, quick-service restaurant franchises, national retailer locations, etc.), to reach their local audiences. Much of this has to do with creative production and the lack of online inventory that can be targeted locally.
2. Online audience targeting is still not good enough for small businesses to shift their ad dollars online.
Local newspaper ad spend on display ads is very unlikely to move online for the next few years. The reason is similar to why television didn’t drop for some time despite shrinking audiences. There just isn’t an alternative to reach the target audience that a small local business, even a local affiliate of a national brand, can take advantage of.
3. Still no infrastructure for small businesses to get “true” local service positioning.
Local search has mainly solidified around mapping, which is great at taking advantage of people searching for a product in a local area but not for driving awareness of a sale or trying to create demand. And without a sales force and creative production resources to serve the local markets, it’s highly unlikely that much of the local inventory available within the online space will ever get sold to local businesses. The infrastructure is really set up for supporting national advertisers with localized creative.
Greg Sterling also comments.
Some good progress being made over at Fatdoor today. Sounds like they got a new CEO as well as some investment funding. It’s great to see social networking initiatives in the local neighborhood space getting recognition and traction.
This just further proves that the space is viable and relevant. With the never-ending supply of social networking options these days, it’s getting really tough to focus on the right networks and web apps that give a postive return to the user both online and offline.
Greg Sterling and TechCrunch both comment as well.
If you are a Wired reader, be sure to check out the Rants section in the latest issue. An excerpt from one of my eNeighbors posts was published this month.
Here’s the original post.
How much do you buy online? Depending on your social situation (single, married, kids, etc.), the amount of actual online purchasing can vary greatly. But how often do you research a purchase online regardless of whether you are planning to purchase online or offline?
When it comes to local search, Greg Sterling has some great comments on SEL today. Greg’s comment in his opening statement are of particular interest to me as it relates to eNeighbors. Since our target audience is homeowners in a managed community, the home services are a perfect fit for us to be able to recommend and advertise to our users, but Greg’s comment about products (which I assume to mean pretty much anything) tell me that every transaction whether on or offline starts at the local level since that’s where we all live.
In other words, we all live in a local community no matter where we are. This local community which houses our friends and family is the largest influence on our buying habits. Our local habitat dictates our entertainment options, our habits, hobbies, etc. You get the idea.
I think the real insight here is this — to sell a product (any product) how much more effective would that sales process be if it were approached from a local level? Obviously, it would be exponetially more effective. It would be like a door-to-door salesman for the entire world. In the past, this approach has not been very cost-effective for obvious reasons, but with the recent adoption of the web’s social networking features, this type of sales approach is now possible.
So, once again I’m advocating the use of a bottom-up approach to local search. In this case, as it directly relates to local commerce. Ironically, the internet may be the vehicle to bring back the feeling of community and localness.
eNeighbors has applied to the Knight News Challenge in the “New Business Ventures” category. Our goal is to align with a funding resource that shares our vision and focus for neighborhood-level communication in actual geographical communities.
Additionally, we strive to achieve social responsibility in our business model as it directly affects communities and their residents. The Knight Foundation shares much of these same principles and beliefs. We believe in what the Knight Foundation is trying to achieve through this program and would love to be a part of it.
Last year, the Knight Foundation awarded funding to a diverse collection of 25 individuals, private and public entities, ranging from MIT to MTV. The Foundation plans to invest at least $25 million over five years in the search for bold community news experiments.
Visit the Knight Foundation to learn more.
Visit eNeighbors to learn how to get your neighborhood online.