What’s Next in Local Data?


What we can learn from a night of television It’s cold here in New York.  So last night rather than head out to dinner, I stayed at home with the three lovely ladies in my life and my dog Willy Wonka.   We hunkered down for the night on our family couch.  My girls wanted to watch the top ten singers on the Voice and I wanted to keep an eye on the Rangers game.  We spent the evening flipping between belters and bruisers.

I remarked to my wife how easy it was to access this content.  To choose what to watch and for how long with a click of a button.  And while there were a variety of shows – from cheap realty shows to premium dramas – it was all available through a single cable outlet.

I said perhaps someday local data would be just as easy to access.

At Onboard, we provide a wide range of information.  We collect local data by either pulling information like population numbers or household income from the public domain or partnering with companies like Great Schools to deliver the best school data or over 100 Multiple Listings Services to power our Listings API.   Much like cable accumulating content from ABC or Bravo or ESPN, Onboard draws from companies like CoreLogic and Yelp to power our clients' websites with local data that keeps them competitive.

Onboard provides the best in local data, but today local data (like most data in 2014) is everywhere.   And when something is so ubiquitous it can become commoditized.   Our principal value isn’t reselling data.  It’s the technology we’ve developed over the years that enables the Onboard process.  This process takes disparate data points and consolidates them, corrects the data for accuracy, relates the data to each other as well as multiple layers of geography , makes it searchable, organized and systematized so when it is delivered to our clients, it’s ready for use.

We are passionate about making it easier to power your growth with local data.  Yes – you could supply your local data needs: property listings, demographic information, points of interest, community data, school zones - from different sources.  But it would be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming.  Imagine having to source your TV from each network;   negotiating with Comedy Central just to watch Jon Stewart.  Who has time for that? Remember your job is to bring value to your customers through the products and services you offer.

Local data isn’t your business, but it is ours.

It’s time to open up our thinking about how local data is collected, distributed and consumed.  Like cable, we need to allow quality content a chance to be wholly accessible by the marketplace, and we need to allow consumers of that content the ability to choose the type and amount of data they need to grow their businesses.  It all needs to be easier.

Real business solutions won’t come from making certain data points cheaper.  Real change will come from making access to great local data simple.  Simplicity will be the true revolution.

It’s still cold here in New York, but with this type of innovation, it seems like things might be heating up.