Datascape

Datascape

Datascape was our entry in the programming competitions held by the cities of New York and San Diego to encourage the use of city-provided data sets by developers. It lets you rank the criteria that are important to you (short commute, low crime, affordable, etc.), and then compares the desirability of different neighborhoods based on those criteria. The data has not been updated since 2012, but it should still give you a basic idea of what areas score higher in each category. Plus, since it's built using Google Earth, it looks really cool.


New York City

San Diego


Requirements

The 3D map display is pretty compute-intensive, so the faster the machine, the better. But even on a three-year-old laptop, it can run at a decent clip. However, you definitely need two things:

We've tested with many, though not all, browsers. Most of them will display the information, but some are reasonably fast, while others crawl. Even on the same machine, one browser can be five times faster than another. No joke.

Unfortunately, because of the way Apple's environment works, Datascape is not available on the iPhone or iPad.

Windows

On Windows, Firefox does a pretty good job. That's what we used for the video.

Internet Explorer 9 is very fast, but has a drawback: the sliders don't show up as sliders, but as text boxes, because IE doesn't support that HTML5 feature. So you'll have to type the numbers in yourself, which isn't as cool. It still works properly, though.

Chrome was considerably slower.

Macintosh

On the Mac, the only high-performance option we found was Firefox version 3.6. That version was decently speedy on a laptop. Unfortunately, like IE9, it displays text boxes instead of sliders. That's a small price to pay for performance, in our opinion.

Safari and Chrome, by contrast, were not very fast. It seems like they run the Javascript in a sandbox container to avoid having it crash the browser, which impacts performance. And unfortunately, newer versions of Firefox are just as slow. Web research found several references to settings which can disable the plugin container, but nothing seemed to work short of reverting to version 3.6. But really, finding the right neighborhood is so important that it's surely worth reverting to Firefox 3.6, right?