OpenBlock is a hyper-local news & data platform.

OpenBlock is a web application that allows users to browse and search their local area for “hyper-local news” – to see what’s going on recently in the immediate geographic area.

OpenBlock stores two kinds of information:

  • Local news. What’s happening nearby? This could be your original content, or content aggregated from any number of sources on the web (e.g. crime reports, restaurant inspections, etc.)
  • Local geographic data. What places do we care about? Neighborhoods, zip codes, school districts, police precincts?

OpenBlock allows you to explore that data in various ways: by geographic area, small or large; by type of news; by various categories relevant to the types of news you have; by text search; or by any combination of the above.


  • News items database: each item has a date, location, and flexible metadata
  • Templates for custom page layouts
  • Serve hyperlocal news for multiple municipalities

Put news on the map

  • Geocode news items
  • Present news by zipcode
  • Present news by street and block
  • Present news by neighborhood, or any other geography you choose
  • Draw your own neighborhoods
  • See news items clustered on a map
  • Custom map icons for different news types
  • Choose base map layers, including Google, Yahoo, CloudMade and other

Slice and dice your local news

  • Email alerts
  • Custom RSS feeds
  • Browse news items by neighborhood, timeline, or type.

Get data into OpenBlock

  • REST API allows creating news via POST
  • … or write Python scraper scripts
  • “Blob” scraper framework for PDFs, Excel files, etc
  • Scraper daemon to run scrapers
  • Flickr scraper (under development)
  • Trulia scraper (under development)
  • Meetup scraper (under development)
  • User-submitted content (under development)

Power an existing website with OpenBlock

  • REST API, including spatial filters
  • Widgets, customizable
  • Widget maps (under development)

OpenBlock is developer-friendly

  • Built on Django
  • uses South for database migrations
  • Clone an Amazon EC2 AMI to get up-and-running in minutes (experimental)
  • … or install on hardware of your choice
  • Amazing docs
  • Safe upgrade
  • Further Admin UI improvements (under development)

OpenBlock Demo - Boston, MA


OpenBlock - Lawrence