Abstract

Finding the right fit is tough, especially in a world that is constantly changing. Everyone wants to live in an area that suits their lifestyle, but often the only way to know if a city or town is the right place for you is to live in it! For young people trying to start their lives or for individuals of any age who are looking to relocate, diving right in to a new place with no background information or context can be stressful and scary. NEXTEP is an innovative decision support tool that allows you to easily compare locations across the US to figure out which one is the best fit for you. NEXTEP reduces the anxiety of relocation by giving you the data you need to make the best decision for your next big move. We sift through heaps of data to present you the stuff that matters, gathering data on demographics, cost of living, and projected climate impacts to give you a holistic view of each city. With climate projections sourced from the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, weather data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, detailed demographic data from Esri's Tapestry Segmentation, and restaurant recommendations from OpenTable, you'll be armed with reliable tools to identify communities where you will be able to feel at home for years to come.

Inspiration

Young people have a lot of big decisions to make. Whether we're graduating, moving away from our hometowns, or trying to start a new career, location plays a huge role in what we envision for our futures. Where we live determines the people we're surrounded with, the leisure activities available to us, and our cost of living. In this day and age, the place we live in determines how we will be affected by the world's changing climate and associated natural disasters. We created NEXTEP to provide people with a platform to compare this data on different cities and determine the best fit for them.

What it does

Simply search a state and NEXTEP returns a list of all the cities in that state with detailed information for each one. This interface makes it easy to compare the statistics that matter to you across multiple cities. These statistics aren’t just hard numbers, either - we give you a personal, detailed idea of who lives here using Esri Tapestry segmentation to accurately describe the overall feel of a city. Before even visiting, you can know what people in this area do for fun, if they have similar lifestyles to you, and what the projected climate will be once you’ve established yourself in that new place.

How we built it

First, we collected the kind of data we would be interested in when considering moving to a new city. This included climate change data, demographic data, and information about job availability and the cost of living. We sourced climate data from NOAA and the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, and demographics from Esri’s Tapestry Segmentation. We then created a data-enriched map of cities in the United States containing all of this information. Finally, using the Esri Web App Builder as a base, we used the ArcGIS API for Javascript to create a custom web application that also draws in restaurant information from the OpenTable REST API to provide users with local restaurant recommendations.

Challenges we ran into

Besides the general time constraints, we ran into challenges with selecting the most relevant metrics and variables for the app since we were inundated with data. We wanted to make sure the data interpretations we chose made the app understandable and the interface user friendly. We also wanted to ensure the app catered to users as a single important first source of information for moving.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Despite the challenges encountered, we’re proud to have compiled demographic and climate data for over 200 US cities into an app that addresses one of our main concerns as young people. The one-stop app delivers relevant information on climate, demographic and personal contexts for moving. In essence, it revolutionalizes moving by allowing young people to know their options and identify areas that fit their needs, while getting insight that helps them better picture the area. The app provides a new perspective on moving, allowing people to make data-based decisions and find the best place to live in a changing world.

What's next for NEXTEP

In future updates to NEXTEP, we’ll add the ability to filter results based on the user’s preferences for factors such as median income, top industry, and the percent of people who commute using public transportation. We also have information on hobbies such as the number of people who bake or go birdwatching in each city, and will allow users to input their hobbies and get custom results. This way they can identify the cities where people share their interests.

We will further integrate data from outside sources such as Glassdoor, Yelp, and Zillow so that users can also see open jobs, housing prices, and things to do in their city of interest. Another functionality we will add is the ability to view different cities side by side. This will allow users to compare two potential options for a move, or see how a new city would differ from their hometown.

Finally, we will allow users to define the search area on the map and expand the pool of cities to include data on more and smaller cities. All of these features will further enhance NEXTEP’s ability to help young adults find the best city for them.

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