Windows on How Cities Change Can Be All Too Captivating

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Tech We’re Utilizing

Expertise is crowding curbs with trip hailers and conserving owners fixated on housing values. Listed below are the instruments that Emily Badger, a author for The Upshot, makes use of to research the ripple results.

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Emily Badger, a reporter for The Upshot in Washington, likes Google Road View’s time-lapse function, which may present a neighborhood’s transformation since 2007.Credit scoreCredit scoreTing Shen for The New York Occasions
Emily Badger

How do New York Occasions journalists use expertise of their jobs and of their private lives? Emily Badger, who writes about cities and concrete coverage for The Upshot in Washington, mentioned the tech she’s utilizing.

Q. As a author for The Upshot, you do a whole lot of evaluation, together with on the results and penalties of expertise. What are the most effective web sites and tech instruments that you simply use usually for that protection?

A. I write about cities and concrete coverage, so I spend a whole lot of time making an attempt to get a really feel for communities aside from the one the place I stay. I take a look at different cities in satellite tv for pc maps. I stroll round their neighborhoods on Google Road View. I notably just like the time-lapse function in Road View that permits you to see how neighborhoods have modified as Google’s vehicles have handed over time.

In lots of locations, the pictures return to 2007, which is sufficient time to see substantial change — for instance, alongside H Road Northeast in Washington or within the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco. You possibly can watch the Trump Worldwide Resort and Tower below building in Chicago and see when, by 2015, Donald J. Trump prominently caught his identify on the constructing, offending a whole lot of Chicago structure buffs.

I additionally wish to know the way locations vote. For the 2016 election, I confer with a reasonably unimaginable interactive precinct-level map The Times published this year. I draw information from the Census Bureau on things like demographics, population change and housing stock. The University of Virginia’s Racial Dot Map, based on the 2010 census, is a fantastic resource for eyeballing patterns of racial segregation; also, it’s just beautiful to look at. And I spend a lot of time lurking on the housing market in other cities through sites like Trulia and Zillow.

What have you found are some of the main unintended consequences of technology on how we live?

For nearly every form of technology I use for work, or use for myself, I have mixed feelings. (These mixed feelings are also a good source of story ideas.) I love apps, like Redfin, that make public information about the housing market incredibly accessible. But I wonder if they also reinforce the unhealthy American expectation that we should all make money off our homes.

Redfin emails me probably once a month with its estimate of what my house is worth. (I assume the company figured out which house is mine based on what I’ve clicked on in the past.) The subtext is that I can watch my investment grow, just as someone might check on a stock portfolio. And I suspect that for a lot of people, this becomes addictive. But fretting about property values is at the root of a lot of political problems in cities — fights over where to open homeless shelters, how to draw school boundaries, whether to build new housing. I’m not sure these fights are helped by this addictive live feed of data about housing values.

Tech advances in transportation have major unintended consequences, too. We clearly see this in the fight in New York City over whether Uber and Lyft have made traffic worse. Studies in several cities suggest that they’re putting cars on the road for trips people might otherwise have taken by foot or transit, or not at all. And they’ve certainly made the curb more crowded. Now, all of a sudden, cities have to figure out how to manage that space where people hop in and out of cars — as if at a cab stand, but everywhere.

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The Capital Bikeshare app helps Ms. Badger find available bicycles in the city to ride.CreditTing Shen for The New York Times

My favorite transportation apps help me navigate public transit, telling me when the next bus is coming, for instance. That little piece of information can radically transform your sense of the quality of public transit. But people who don’t have smartphones don’t benefit from this. And that means that while I can run out of my house just when the bus is coming, someone else may wait on a corner for 20 minutes for the same bus. And now we’re having very different experiences of the same public service. Mine is much better, because I have a smartphone.

Ms. Badger on a Capital Bikeshare bicycle. When riding her own bike, she wears a helmet that has lights for signaling turns.CreditTing Shen for The New York Times

You recently moved from San Francisco to Washington. What have you observed about how Washingtonians and San Franciscans use tech differently or the same?

Emily Badger writes about cities and concrete coverage for The Upshot from the San Francisco bureau. She’s notably concerned with housing, transportation and inequality — and the way they’re all linked. She joined The Occasions in 2016 from The Washington Publish. @emilymbadger

A model of this text seems in print on , on Web page B6 of the New York version with the headline: Home windows on How Cities Change Are All Too Addictive. Order Reprints | At the moment’s Paper | Subscribe

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