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Website alerts residents to local building plans

Telecommunications

One day you pass that quaint row of shops in your neighbourhood only to discover it’s being demolished to make way for a parking lot. If only you’d known about the tear-down plans well enough in advance you could have lodged a protest. That’s where PlanningAlerts.com comes in. The UK startup functions as a targeted search engine, digitally scouring local government agencies’ online records for news of construction projects destined to affect the lives of local residents. Residents can sign up, enter a postal code and receive alerts by email. Result: if there’s a public meeting scheduled to discuss zoning changes in a nearby subdivision, users receive word of the meeting’s time and place. So far, the non-profit venture has sent out 21,686 alerts for 156 local authorities. Of course, this information is already made public—as required by law—in a local newspaper’s official notices section. Likewise, truly determined neighbourhood advocates can find news of planning and zoning commission meetings and city council agendas posted online. However, like another service we recently profiled—Cleanscores, which posts restaurant health inspection reports online—PlanningAlerts.com unlocks the information, making it easier for people to stay informed. Especially by adding social features like comments and discussion boards that would make it easy for neighbourhood residents to coordinate action. PlanningAlerts.com is currently in beta, covering only portions of the UK, but it doesn’t lack potential. The site’s super-local focus serves a role traditionally taken up by community newspapers and illustrates how the most mundane and obscure information can hold huge importance to those affected by it—something that publishers like Gannett are picking up on, and that many other established newspapers should take to heart. Spotted by: Susanna Haynie

Email: team@planningalerts.com

Website: www.planningalerts.com

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