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Housing Search in the Age of Big Data Smarter Cities or the Same Old Blind Spots?

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Document pages: 22 pages

Abstract: Housing scholars stress the importance of the information environment inshaping housing search behavior and outcomes. Rental listings have increasinglymoved online over the past two decades and, in turn, online platforms likeCraigslist are now central to the search process. Do these technology platformsserve as information equalizers or do they reflect traditional informationinequalities that correlate with neighborhood sociodemographics? We synthesizeand extend analyses of millions of US Craigslist rental listings and find theysupply significantly different volumes, quality, and types of information indifferent communities. Technology platforms have the potential to broaden,diversify, and equalize housing search information, but they rely on landlordbehavior and, in turn, likely will not reach this potential without asignificant redesign or policy intervention. Smart cities advocates hoping tobuild better cities through technology must critically interrogate technologyplatforms and big data for systematic biases.

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