Hi, My name is Peter Black and I’m the lead geospatial engineer at Trulia. We’ve been making some interesting maps here at Trulia, displaying crime heatmaps, a commute tool that selects homes within a travel time polygon, and home value estimates down to the parcel level. Today, I’m writing to tell you the why’s and how’s of our most recent series on natural hazards.
When Hurricane (ok ok, it was an extra tropical storm) Sandy slammed into the New Jersey shoreline on October 30th, I watched with horror and tried to stay in contact with my loved ones and friends in harms way. Seeing the awful damage that resulted cemented my feeling that I had to incorporate maps on natural hazards that I knew were readily available from various federal sources into the Trulia experience. Doing so would open up a new avenue for millions of people to better understand the natural world and the risks they face when they’re making the decision on where to buy a home.
There are many types of natural hazards of course, and we couldn’t possibly put all of them on Trulia. So we chose the five hazards that have caused the most damage in the past few decades. These are: hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and wildfires. Fortunately there is excellent data available for each hazard, mostly from federal sources. In compiling the data, I noticed some interesting things. For example, why was the Charleston South Carolina area at risk for earthquake? As it turns out, there was a magnitude 7.3 that shook the area in 1886.
There have been tornados in my neck of the woods in northern California. Southern New Jersey (the pine barrens) is at risk for a forest fire.
Given these revelations, it only made us work harder to create a new audience for this insightful information. We noticed that there wasn’t any really good mashup for all of the historical information around hurricanes and tornadoes. So for each, we took the historical track data along with their attributes, and assigned them to an underlying nested hexagon grid. Once that was accomplished, we classified the data and created a really cool visualization of historical hotspots for each hazard. I stress the word historical intentionally since we have no idea where the next hurricane or tornado will hit. Our intention is to solely show where the storms have hit in the past 60 years or so, when this meteorological data became more reliable and sophisticated due to the advent of technologies like radar (in the 40s) and satellite imagery (in the 60s).
I hope you enjoy the maps. They are pretty informative and provide an interesting tool for homebuyers that can help people make more informed choices. I’d like to thanks my excellent team of engineers whose talent and professionalism are truli-amazing, the awesome pr crew we have, as well as the senior management team at Trulia who supported this idea from its inception.0 comments
Trulia is at it again, hosting unique and informational events right here in our San Francisco office for employees and the local community alike. We take tech (and socializing) pretty seriously around here by staying up on the latest gadgets, understanding the current market and interacting with fellow data-obsessed techies. Over the last several weeks we have felt honored to host some “trulia-mazing” speakers and welcomed visitors from far and wide. During the UX in Space! vol.2 event Eric Bell, Jess Zak, and Ulrika Andersson joined us to discuss how their designs have solved interesting challenges in varying environments. The Storylines Meetup Group has brought in both Wendy Yu and Trulia’s very own Heather Fernandez to share their personal stories of where they are today and the path they took to get there. Being the data-geeks that we are, we were excited to host the Urban Data Challenge Showcase, brought on by Young Professionals in Transportation, where participants demoed their submissions and spoke about the challenges, the process, and the findings that came along from their projects. SF Data Mining stopped by our offices to host a Crowdsourcing Meetup, where Edwin Chen spoke to human-powered machine learning in regards to use cases, methods for quality control and running your first task.
Take a look at what’s coming up next at our office and grab a spot while you still can. We look forward to seeing you at Trulia shortly!
Trulia HQ has been the host to many tech events here in the Bay Area, welcoming an array of organizations into our office space. Data visualization, tech leadership, UXD, and data mining groups have all spent an evening or two with us. Our unique rooftop event space (aka the “Trulia Penthouse”) is the perfect backdrop, offering beautiful views of the city. Trulia is proud to support the tech community in San Francisco and foster a great environment for idea exchange and learning. Our employees are encouraged to attend these evening events and mingle with fellow SF Techies. One of our last featured events was Pamela Fox’s Story, where Pamela joined us to discuss her experience as a Front End Engineer and her involvement in Girl Develop It. We also hosted speaker Scott Murray, author of Interactive Data Visualization for the Web, and Chris Viau, the force behind @d3visualization, during the Bay Area d3 User Group event. Trulia is closely linked to many groups in the Meetup.com world and we always seem to have an event just around the corner, check it out…
Upcoming Events @ Trulia:0 comments
When we first implemented map markers on our Android apps we were just using an image to highlight each location. Over time we wanted to add the specific price as well. As I started working on an implementation of that feature I was hard pressed to find any articles or examples of what we wanted to accomplish. So I had to start from scratch and figure out a method by myself. The initial implementation is currently in use on our Trulia Rentals android app. However, there are some deficiencies with that version and some of the code is sub-optimal. In this post I will detail the new method I am working on (which will be ported into all of our android apps).0 comments
With the last major release of our Android app we added in Street View capability on property detail pages. The response we got from users was extremely positive but we couldn’t help but notice a few issues that really degraded a user’s experience.
First, we assumed (incorrectly) that the built in Street View app would be available on all Android phones. And how did that work out? The stack traces in the Market crash reports told the whole story: some people didn’t have the app installed.0 comments
At Trulia we have a set of values we work by with the acronym “IMPACT“. The “C” stands for Customer-obsessed. As Trulia grows we continue to ramp up our dedication to that particular value. We’ve found that the best way to successfully evolve our offerings is to always keep listening to the folks who use our site and mobile products. This is not a novel idea to be sure, but there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. Here are some ways Trulia stays in tune with our site visitors and customers.0 comments
July 2011 marked the anniversary of Trulia’s Innovation Days. We are extremely excited about our innovation program and wanted to take this opportunity to share some details and insights into what these Innovation Days entail.
It all started with the recognition that innovation is very important when creating a winning company, and that it can really blossom when actively nurtured and developed. We truly believe innovation is free spirited and should not be bound by strict rules! The program evolved following a simple principle: “Pave sidewalks where people walk”. This statement helps the program to retain its grass roots, unbound and organic characteristics and leverages the power of our teams without over-management.0 comments