Engage the Community

Has the community expressed interested in health inspection information? Are there many reports about violations or requests for scores? Are there other indicators of demand for civic information? Solicit feedback from the community. Has any of this data been made public before? What does a citizen have to do today to find this information? What is a restaurants current health inspection score? What are scores from previous years? If any, what are the violations? Are you currently collecting this information digitally?

Foodborne illness affects 48 million Americans annually with the majority of reported foodborne outbreaks due to food prepared and served by restaurants. New York City officials say that publicizing restaurant grades has led to a decrease in incidents of food poisoning, overall improvement of sanitation in restaurants, and an increase in business for restaurants with the best grades.

Find your Data

The data you need is created by the inspectors who visit restaurants and file reports. If your inspectors provide overall grades and detailed reports, you need to decide at what level of detail you wish to provide it.

You might find this data in the health department, inspections department. Check that the data you’ve found is up to date, accurate and complete.

Decide how to format your Data

Code for America, the cities of New York and San Francisco and Yelp, the popular restaurant review site, recently partnered to create a standard for health inspection data. The standard, Local Inspector Value-entry Specification (LIVES), is a collection of CSV files with health inspection data. When in this format and submitted to Yelp, the information will become available on Yelp.com. Details about the standard are on Yelp’s website.

Decide how to deliver your Data

Once your data is formatted per the standards, submit it to healthscores@yelp.com.

Place the same data on your web site, allowing other others to use it. Consider using local mapping solutions to deliver data in with a geographical and community focus.

Publish your Data

Though the guide for the data standard says that feed_information.csv is an optional file, it’s really benefitial to the public to provide this information so that the data can be dated. It is also useful to provide documentation for the public regarding the collection and use of the data. When this is complete, publish your data!

Restaurant inspections are an ongoing process. You need to ensure that your data, as best as possible reflects current inspections and results.

Engage your Community

Provide an email address for the public to provide feedback about the data. Monitor your web site analytics to determine utilization. Consider reaching out to public health officials to determine impact on health outcomes. Local sales tax data can also provide information on business impacts.