Block Avenue Takes Big Data Approach to Neighborhood Ratings

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block spam and the slew of fake or biased reviews—aimed at bumping up scores of restaurants and such—that sometimes plague Yelp. Users can choose to leave reviews under an anonymous alias for privacy’s sake. When they do keep their Facebook identities public, users can choose to search neighborhood data based on what friends have said, thereby creating a social data layer for the site, Longo says.

And since I’ve just said the word data maybe 10 times in a few paragraphs, I asked Longo if his startup was a big data play.

“Absolutely, without a question,” he says. “We didn’t know it until we got it on our servers. I know it’s a fad and a trend, and it never popped into our mind.”

“But with anything over 20 million data points, you’re a big data player,” he adds.

As far as business models go, Longo says the startup plans to work with the real estate market. But he also sees potential in advertising for local businesses—“ it’s getting harder and harder for them to market to people,” he says. Block Avenue could also partner with travel sites, providing information to consumers who want to really get a sense of what a city is like, rather than just hitting all the typical tourist hot spots, Longo says.

Longo was also enthusiastic about the attention tech giants have been paying to review sites. (We first met shortly after Google announced its acquisition of the Frommer’s travel guide business.)

“It’s obviously exciting to see the big players want to come into this space,” he says. “They realize how important it is.”

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