Yahoo! brings your city up close and personal

By Frederick Noronha, IANS

Bangalore : Urban skylines are changing in India – in cyberspace too. Global Internet services company Yahoo! Inc – headquartered in Sunnyvale, California – has launched a new series of networks covering urban Indian areas in cyberspace.

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Called Our City, this three-month-old network is "a dynamic representation of content created by you and everyone else".

Yahoo!'s new venture in India collects online content on the city from various sources and presents it in a dynamic manner. Our City ( is in the experimental Beta version so far and Yahoo! says that it plans to continue to add more features and city versions.

India is playing a significant role in this new venture from the cyber-giant firm known for its web portal, search engine, the Yahoo! directory, Yahoo! mail, news and posting.

"Yahoo! Our City provides a very interesting, rich and dynamically updated perspective of our city as seen and experienced by us all," Yahoo! spokesperson Sai Sreekanth told IANS.

This product has been piloted in India and Yahoo! is "actively considering" releasing this in "other geographies".

Currently, this venture covers an A-to-V of Indian cities – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Coimbatore, Goa, Guwahati, Hubli, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kanpur, Kochi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Madurai, Mangalore, Mumbai, Mysore, Nagpur, Patna, Puducherry, Pune, Ranchi, Shimla, Srinagar, Thiruvananthapuram and Visakhapatnam.

Our City can be used to explore photos, videos, events, news, weather, blogs and a lot more. It also allows one to share events, photos, videos, plan trips and blogs.

"This is the new generation of the web – city content of the users, by the users and for the users," Sreekanth said.

What is the response so far?

"Very good," said Sreekanth. "The product is continuously evolving. Over 50 detailed blog posts have written about it. User feedback has been very positive and we have got several requests for new cities to be added."

Users are increasingly looking for content that is local to them, Yahoo! holds.

"We are trying to answer the following question 'how local, interesting, engaging and useful can the internet become' and this is an attempt to answer this question on a large scale," according to Sreekanth.

Yahoo! says it is trying to aggregate useful content in many forms – text, photos, video – about the city from various sources and present it to users in an "interesting manner".

This product ties in various services (maps, the photo-oriented service, and the bookmarks-based, all of which were successful net-based services, and some that were bought up by Yahoo!

Users can participate in Our City in several ways. They can post photos, videos, posts on message boards and also write trip plans. "We will be beefing up features further," Sreekanth said.

Rights of the contributors will be fully respected, assures Yahoo! "We show only excerpts of the content and fully acknowledge the source of the content. Further, we hyperlink the content to the original source," said the organisation.

Yahoo! has released "close to 30 city versions" in less than three months. Sreekanth said: "We will continue to add more features and city editions. Bangalore and Delhi are the most successful cities in India. These cities have a sizeable Internet audience and this explains their popularity.

"The quality and quantity of online content available for a city varies widely across countries and is a bigger challenge for developing countries. The product was conceived in a company internal innovation contest (called Hackday) and was quickly 'productised' considering the potential of the idea."