Yelp has just announced plans to integrate health inspection information directly into restaurant reviews and they're starting with New York City and San Francisco. According to their blog post, the new system will be called Local Inspector Value-entry Specification (LIVES) and was co-developed with the assistance of local heath authorities in both cities.
The LIVES system will list the restaurants numerical score among all the normal data like hours and cost. If you click on the score it'll pull you into a more detailed report with information like when the restaurant was last inspected, what the specific violations were and how many violations they garnered.
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Yelp is inviting other cities to jump into the program although it sounds like it might a great deal of extra work for health departments. That said they're already out there writing these reports anyways, putting them into the Yelp friendly format to get that information to the public might be a very useful further step.
While there's undoubtedly good business sense for a company like Yelp to add more values to their review pages, it's not without its civic virtue as well. Yelp cites a study conducted in Los Angeles, one of the first major cities to mandate the posting of health grades in front of restaurants, in which is showed fairly clearly that increased consumer knowledge about health inspection scores contributed to a lower incident of hospitalization due to food borne illness. Which in and of itself makes a great deal of sense, public knowledge of recent health inspections definitely pressures restaurants into running a tighter ship, hopefully with less cockroaches.