Yikes – can’t believe how long it has been since I’ve posted! It’s been very much head down and nose to the grindstone around here for a long while now. But I am taking a breather to make sure I mention something we’ve done recently that I am very proud to be a part of.
As you are probably aware, Yelp is the most prominent online guide for places to eat, shop, relax, etc. People can write reviews on Yelp to provide their opinions and experiences about certain locales.
Wake County, regularly conducts sanitation inspections at more than 2,600 restaurants and for years we’ve posted the information to our website. In order to be more transparent and to provide access to this information in high traffic places, we recently partnered with Yelp. We push a daily data feed of sanitation scores daily to Yelp so viewers to the site will automatically see a restaurant’s inspection score right next to its customer reviews. Clicking through the scores also provides users with a high-level summary of the infractions in an easy to understand summary. This helps to serve people of the community and visitors in a broader way. It is “one-stop shopping” that provides users with peer reviews and official results all in one friendly package.
One of the best parts of this endeavor is that there were no direct costs associated with this project, only a small amount of staff hours to set up the data connection and to make sure that the information was consistent with Yelp’s “tone”.
This really was a no-brainer. We were already collecting and publicly providing the data, albeit in a somewhat out of the way page on our site. Yelp was already the recognized leader in crowsourced restaurant reviews. So the question was, why would we NOT do this? It was all but free, it provides great customer service, it gets our valuable info to a place where people are already looking for such info and it promotes the Wake County goal of transparency!
Below is a sampling of the great coverage the project got in the media and among open data and government transparency thought leaders. This might give you some ideas about how to apply it in your own locality.