Amazon could use data from its HQ2 contest to infiltrate even the losing cities

Amazon packages.
(Image credit: iStock/Julie Clopper)

Amazon probably hasn't mapped out your everyday routine as well as Facebook and Google have — but it probably knows more about your city than you do.

Thanks to its massive HQ2 contest, Amazon stockpiled top secret data and future development plans from cities across the U.S. and Canada. The tech giant has yet to pick the location for its second global headquarters (the first being in Seattle), but what it learned about the 237 reject cities could still come in handy, Axios reports.

A year ago, Amazon invited cities to propose why they'd be the best home for HQ2, requesting larger metropolitan areas with effective transit systems. The promise of 50,000 full-time, high-paying jobs lured 238 applicants, who spilled transit improvement plans, potential tax incentives, and other hopes for the future to the company. Those details might still be a secret to residents and even some city leaders, Brookings Institution expert Joe Parilla tells Axios.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Amazon will only bestow its thousands of HQ2 jobs on one lucky city, and it has narrowed its search down to 20 finalists. But unlike its competitors, Amazon knows what 237 other areas have to offer. Those secrets could come in handy as Amazon looks to build smaller data centers, research and development facilities, and more, Parilla tells Axios.

The potential jobs that come with those builds would prove a huge benefit for communities. Yet by proposing tax breaks and financial incentives to reel in HQ2, these cities also laid all their cards on the table. Now Amazon knows what everyone can provide, and it could force cities to fork over HQ2-level deals for far fewer jobs. Read more about Amazon's data powerhouse at Axios.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn is a graduate of Syracuse University, with degrees in magazine journalism and information technology, along with hours to earn another degree after working at SU's independent paper The Daily Orange. She's currently recovering from a horse addiction while living in New York City, and likes to share her extremely dry sense of humor on Twitter.