Monday, August 15, 2016

What's Interesting About Richardson?

Are there lots of activities, lots of things to do near you? An update to Google Maps now answers that question for you.
In a shade of pale orange, Google Maps now highlights "areas of interest," or "places where there's a lot of activities and things to do," determined by "an algorithmic process that allows us to highlight the areas with the highest concentration of restaurants, bars and shops," according to the company's blog.
Source: CityLab.
CityLab highlights a few disconcerting findings with Google's choices in other parts of the country. Some neighborhoods, "packed with restaurants, businesses, and schools," but relatively low-income and predominantly Latino, get overlooked by Google's orange highlighting. Areas of interest — to whom? So, take Google's automated algorithms with some reservations.

Still, let's see what Google thinks of Richardson. Spoiler alert: it's pretty accurate, not necessarily in our favor.

Coit Rd does very well. There are areas of pale orange at Spring Valley Rd (Tacos Chaco 2 doesn't seem to hurt us at all), at Belt Line Rd, and at Campbell Rd. But Plano Rd is mostly uninteresting to Google. So too is Jupiter Rd. The Richardson panhandle is an activity-free desert. As is the Bush Tollway, except for one small dab of orange at the Shire. Central Expressway has only two pockets of interest: at Belt Line Rd (Alamo Drafthouse, Kabobi, Afrah, etc.) and at Campbell Rd (Eastside, Snuffers, Tokyo Joes, Torchy's, SPIN!, etc.).

What stands out are the missing pale orange areas around the four DART stations in Richardson. Richardson has had DART light rail since 2002, but has little to show for it in terms of spurring development of "things to do" along the Red Line. You'd think by now these transit stations would have drawn development, that there'd be a high "concentration of restaurants, bars and shops" all around them. Yet Spring Valley DART station, Arapaho DART station, Galatyn DART station, all are colored dull gray by Google, rightfully so. Even CityLine DART station is still gray, although I assume Google will soon notice the development there and give that area an orange look.

I find this really embarrassing. Richardson did the easy stuff, like giving a green light to developers for greenfield developments like CityLine and Palisades, but when it came to the tougher job of redevelopment around the DART stations, Richardson missed the train. Google's automated algorithms noticed. When will Richardson?

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