Walkability and GIS

Have you ever wondered how walkable your city, hometown or community is? There are GIS based tools out there that you can use to find out! The most well know is Walk Score, which assigns a location points based on how many daily amenities are with a 1 mile radius of your location. For example, if your home has 2 restaurants, 3 grocery stores, a farmers market, a library and a train station all with a half mile of it, you’ll will get a high walkability score. Almost all of your daily errands can probably be done on foot.

Walk Score isn’t perfect, but it does give you an approximation of the walkability of your property. They list some of the limitations of the technology on their page, “how it doesn’t work.”

The newest tool is Walkshed, which determines walkability based on user preferences. For example, if it is very important to you to live near a bus station and a farmers market, but you don’t really care about bars or retail shops, the technology will create a heat map that identifies the areas that fit your request. Someone else, however, might really want to live by bars & restaurants… so their map would be different. Walkshed is only available in Philadelphia and NYC at the moment, but they hope to expand the technology in the future.

Where do you think these guys get there data? What are their biggest challenges?