Anyone who've following the evolution of Google Maps Mashups for a while is probably familiar with the first one to really prove what could be done with the technology: Chicago Crime.
The man behind that site, Adrian Holovaty, has since put together a team to build a new project that launched today where they mashup as much data as they can find that's relevant to every block in a city: EveryBlock.
The site is very simple to use. Just type in an address, zip, or neighborhood name and Everyblock will create a custom news summary of everything they can find on the web relevant to that location. This includes the latest news from government sources, restaurant review sites, photos from Flickr, crime data, lost & founds from Craigslist. The site already has a lot of aggregated data sources on day-1 for the three startup cities: Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City.
Of course, those are also cities where a lot of information is created and published to the web through sites like Craigslist and Flickr. Will it work as well in smaller metropolitan areas? There's not reason it wouldn't work that I could think of, but it may rely on different sets of data.
The site includes RSS feeds at the block level, which should give busy people the tools they need to be passively informed about their neighborhood. There are plenty of things going on that people would find valuable if they could only receive easy access to the information. For example, what if you could easily find out that a dumpy bar that always causes trouble is up for their liquor license renewal? Maybe that would be enough to motivate you to do something locally. The power here comes from EveryBlock doing the grunt-work of making news and data more accessible to people who are busy but care.
More information can be found on the EveryBlock Blog launch post.