Stacey Mosley, former data scientist for the City of Philadelphia, quit her job on October 23, 2015.
The following week, she opened her laptop and got to work on what is now FixList, a recently-released online service that lets users search the city’s open data to narrow down over 600,000 real estate locations according to 26 different criteria and find redevelopment potential across Philadelphia neighborhoods.
“It’s a map-based interface, similar to Zillow, where you can search through properties by address, owner, neighborhoods, ZIP codes and many other criteria,” Mosley explained.
Investors, neighborhoods associations and private citizens can tap into the data stream and sort properties according to their “Redevelopment Score,” an index developed by Mosley, which signals the potential a piece of real estate has of being brought back to life, in a scale ranging from 0 to 100.
Mosley thinks the subscription-based service will help more-organized citizens care for houses or lots on their block via conservatorship, in which concerned Philadelphians can request access of entry to rundown, often tax-delinquent buildings in order to make improvements like adding windows or doors.
In the same spirit, neighborhood associations can use the database to keep a lookout on changes that may be coming to their block or neighborhood.
When the property is city-owned, the site gives access to the Philly Landworks site, where an expression of interest for a property can be put in for a building.
Drawing from last December’s major data release on tax delinquent properties, the site also narrows the search down by years of tax delinquency. Some properties have not paid taxes in over 20 years, particularly in West and North Philadelphia.
FixList draws its open data sets from a number of sources, including: the Office of Property Assessment, the Departments of Records, Licenses and Inspections, Parks and Recreation and the Streets Department.
“There’s a plethora of property information that is being curated from what is available online to the public, and then digested in a statistical way, but also in a way that selects the most recent information,” Mosley said.
Last November, another company sought to find a real estate application to open data sets. Brixsy, a startup founded by Matt Einheber, aimed to decode necessary info on property taxes, death records and property violations to give real estate investors a better picture of what they were getting into.
Both experiences link to what Robert Cheetham, founder of Azavea, said last year on the availability of data sets: data releases are great but they’re nothing without the people that use them. During RJMetrics’ Data Jawn event, Cheetham said he’d like to see more startups, nonprofits and researchers capitalize on the fact that there’s so much data available.
Today, he points to companies like FixList and Brixsy as examples of what needs to happen with open data.
“If open data ends with good government, it’s not going to last,” Cheetham said in an interview with Technical.ly. “The only way for this to last is to build stakeholders that gain value — through organizations, nonprofits and businesses that pay taxes.”
FixList, as it stands right now, is self-funded in its entirety by Mosley’s savings, although she doesn’t rule out the possibility of seed funding down the line.
But why did she resign from the City of Philadelphia? She was part of the team that visualized some of the city’s early data sets, often spoke on behalf of the City and organized local tech events.
“Coming out of college and working at TicketLeap, I got a taste of the startup world early in my career, and even while working for the City, I had the fortune to be working on really scrappy, innovative teams that were always pushing and doing more with less,” Mosley said via email. “I resigned so I could finally pursue my dream.”
By next year, Mosley’s goal is to cast the FixList net across five cities, with clients using the subscription service but also putting the API to use, integrating other websites and services into the site’s data engine.
But is there fear of FixList becoming a gentrification catalyst?
Mosley chooses to focus on its potential to do some good in Philly’s neighborhoods.
“There is a great deal of blight in Philadelphia, but there’s also a great deal of opportunity throughout the entire city for positive change,” she wrote. “My goal is to help empower people with information, neighborhood associations, businesses, and developers alike, to help reduce blight.”
Here’s a video explaining how the service works:
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