There are apps we discover because we need them, and then there are apps we discover and then only later come to realize how useful they are. For most people, I would think that Sitegeist will fall into that latter category.
Allowed to use your current location, Sitegeist can present you with a wealth of information pertaining to where you live or are vacationing. What kind of information? Everything from the median age and annual household income of local residents to the weather report, nearest movie theater, and best place to eat breakfast. Click through to take a look.
So, What Is It?
Basically, Sitegeist draws on publicly available data and presents it in a simple, eye-pleasing, easy-to-understand way. It can provide you with information for any location in the United States; you can allow the app to use your current location, or you can drop the pin anywhere on the map to learn more about a different city.
At the bottom of each screen of data (People, Housing, Fun, Environment, History), Sitegeist displays the sources from which it pulled the data, for example, the U.S. Census Bureau, Yelp, Foursquare, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Weather Underground and other public sources.
People & Housing
Pulling up information on where I live in Scottsdale, Ariz., I can view the median age of residents (35 years, 10 months), the relative age distribution, household incomes, gender ratio (53 percent female/47 percent male) and even political contributions (spoiler alert: the area is heavily Republican).
Under Housing, I learn that the median home value is $505,300 and the average rent is $1,124 per month. (Sitegeist also tells me that 66 percent of people in the area rent.) Plus, I can view how the majority of people commute — via car, public transportation, walking or biking.
Here’s where things get, well, fun. Sitegeist has pulled recreational recommendations from Yelp. For my location, these include a vendor called Torched Goodness for desserts, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve for hiking and the DC Ranch Village Health Club and Spa for a gym/spa experience. The last two I was already familiar with; the first one I now want to try!
While it’s unclear to me exactly how Sitegeist selects these recommendations, I get the impression that only businesses or entities with lots of reviews and a five-star rating on Yelp make the cut.
The Fun section also presents the number of movie theaters within five miles of my location and lists several of the top-rated eateries (again, courtesy of Yelp data) that are very close by. Sitegeist even points out a new spot in the neighborhood I should try — a sub shop I’ve never heard of but that already has a wallop of Foursquare check-ins. Geez, I’d better get with the times.
Environment & History
On the Environment screen, Sitegeist supplies me with the weather report (70 degrees Fahrenheit and clear), as well as the high and low temps for the day, plus record temperatures for today.
And finally, the History screen provides me with the median age of the homes here (20 years) and the number of housing units in 2010. Good to know.
But What Does It All Mean?
If you’re wondering why anyone would want to know all this stuff and what the practical applications could possibly be for such an app, I can help you out with a few ideas.
First, this information includes some important facts that we probably all want to know, or should know, about our hometowns. And true, while Sitegeist loses its wow factor after you use it once in your own neighborhood, don’t get hasty and delete it. The app could still be useful to you the next time you:
- travel to another city
- move to a new city
- are trying to decide on a neighborhood when moving to a new city
- are making marketing decisions for your local business
I’m sure you’ve thought of some good applications for it, too. Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments below.
Overall, I like this app. It’s a handy reference guide that presents information in a very clean and attractive layout, and I look forward to checking it periodically to see which info pertaining to my area is updated and how it changes. Some sections, such as those on the Fun page, are bound to change according to what’s new and being raved about on Yelp and Foursquare, so I look forward to discovering more cool places in my neighborhood.
Hopefully Sitegeist will continue to add over time what information out there is publicly available, including figures on education, employment, retail and so on.