People love this stuff: Yelp partners with Socrata to access and distribute restaurant inspection data

A new partnership between Yelp and Socrata, the Seattle-based government data technology company, promises to bring restaurant inspection information to more Yelp users around the word, by giving cities, counties and governmental agencies new ways to connect their databases to the widely used business review service. the partnership, Yelp will become a member of Socrata’s Open Data Network, and government users of Socrata’s Open Data Portal will receive tools and guidance to help them connect their data to Yelp’s systems, according to a news release from the companies this morning.

“With this behind-the-scenes data integration, millions of people will be able to benefit from better health information, which will ultimately improve their lives,” said Socrata CEO Kevin Merritt in the release.

Accessing and understanding public health data about restaurants can be a major challenge for restaurant customers, as illustrated by Seattle resident Sarah Schacht’s quest to get King County to make its inspection data more accessible to the public, using placards at restaurants.

Yelp makes restaurant inspection data available in some cities, but it’s not yet a widespread practice.

“Extracting restaurant inspections data from government databases is not always easy,” explains Socrata. “Additionally, the majority of cities throughout the United States are not yet publishing their restaurant inspection information in a format that can be consumed by ‘business-to-consumer’ solutions such as Yelp. The strategic partnership between Socrata and Yelp, as well as their new solution, is a first in that it helps governments unlock this data while normalizing and presenting it to everyday consumers in a way that is easy to understand and in a context with which they are familiar.”

The partnership will use the Local Inspector Value Entry Specification (LIVES) open data standard, which helps software developers analyze restaurant inspection data. Socrata says this approach is already being applied by one of its customers, the DataSF, the data portal for the City and County of San Francisco.