Map: Stereotype Your Detroit Neighborhood

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Launched in July, Hoodmaps crowdsources categories for more than 200 cities. The project comes from a common problem for city lovers. As the creator Pieter Levels says:

“I very often end up in the tourist center. I’m originally from Amsterdam and I know 90% of tourists will never get any idea about the ‘real’ Amsterdam because they just stay in the tourist center.”

However, Martín Echenique at CityLab notes the dangers of a crowdsourced project to categorize neighborhoods based on past app projects that have become tools for racism (i.e. SketchFactor, Airbnb, NextDoor, etc.).

The categories users can choose from are also quite limited, not to mention white-centric. The stereotypes speak mostly to how wealthier, white people might see a neighborhood—the ”hipster” label is especially common in lower-income and more diverse parts of cities, while “normies” is so vague that it’s nearly useless for understanding anything about an area.

It appears so-far that 50 people have contributed to color-coding and tagging Detroit neighborhoods. Could this be a useful app, an exercise in futility, or another tool for coded racial prejudice.

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