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January 17, 2013

Now on Yelp: Restaurant Inspection Scores [UPDATED]

Yelp's mission is to connect people with great local businesses; along the way, we hope to enrich lives of consumers and small business owners. In pursuit of this mission, we want to provide the most helpful information possible about local businesses. While ratings and reviews are incredibly powerful ways to guide spending decisions, we're always looking for new ways to supplement the information to provide a better experience for consumers.

Today, we're excited to join San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in announcing that restaurant hygiene scores from the City of San Francisco will be imported onto Yelp business pages. This is huge news in itself, but perhaps the bigger news is what we’ve created to enable this new business attribute: a new open data standard -- the “Local Inspector Value-entry Specification” or, simply, LIVES.

The LIVES standard was co-developed by Yelp and the technology departments of the cities of San Francisco and New York. The standard was created with the guidance and encouragement of the White House.

You can already see some live examples on the site today: here and here.


 

LIVES enables local municipalities to display their hygiene inspection data as a business attribute on Yelp. Consumers in SF and NYC will be the first to benefit from this program as it rolls out in the weeks ahead. San Francisco users will be able to click through and view the inspection history of a local establishment.

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Public/private partnerships like this don't necessarily provide a direct contribution to Yelp’s bottom line, but evidence suggests the LIVES open data standard will have a positive impact on society.

According to a study of the Los Angeles restaurant industry, when consumers have better exposure to restaurant hygiene scores, the number of hospitalizations due to foodborne illness drops. The LA study also demonstrated that when restaurant scores are posted conspicuously, best practices improve across the industry.

We hope other cities will join San Francisco in fully embracing this new open data standard. If you work for a city hall and are interested in learning more about implementation, visit http://yelp.com/healthscores.

UPDATE: We're very pleased to share that Code for America is supporting this initiative with a dedicated push to their community members. Go to foodinspectiondata.org to get involved and pledge to implement the LIVES standard in your municipality.