Magazine article Information Today

Walkshed: A Walk in the Park

Magazine article Information Today

Walkshed: A Walk in the Park

Article excerpt

Any city dweller knows the benefits of having useful amenities within walking distance. Need some milk? It's half a block to the corner store. Want a bite to eat? Grab your jacket and go. But determining "walkability" in an unfamiliar area isn't easy, even in this era of block-by-block online business listings. Walkshed (http://walkshed.org), a website launched in October by Philadelphia-based software development firm Avencia, Inc., is trying to add some value to distance.

Walkshed is basically Google Maps for feet. The site was inspired by the concept of the "walkshed index," a measure of walkability based on the quantity and diversity of amenities in a one-mile radius, first suggested by Alan Durning of the Sightline Institute. Walkshed assigns a score from 1 to 100 to an address depending on how difficult a place is to reach from a starting point. The site follows street layouts and uses the notion of "friction" to determine how difficult it is to pass through a given area by taking into account unusual terrain or impassable structures such as rivers or walls. …

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