Yelp partnering with government data company to report restaurant inspection info

Yelp is forming a strategic partnership with data service company Socrata.

Yelp is forming a strategic partnership with data service company Socrata.  (AP Photo)

Popular review site Yelp could get more useful with the recent announcement that it will be partnering with Socrata, a government data technology company, in an effort to better publicize restaurant inspection information.

According to Socrata, current restaurant ratings and inspection information is very difficult to access and many U.S. cities do not publish results in a way that’s easy to understand for many consumers.

Partnering with Yelp will allow for the distribution of “important restaurant inspection information and help improve public health conditions in communities all over the world,” according to Socrata’s press release.

In the past, users have questioned the veracity of Yelp reviews while restaurants have filed lawsuits, complaining that the site extorts them by dropping or raising ratings based on whether or not they choose to advertise on the site.

Publishing official government data will allow the site to claim better transparency. But in the past, Yelp’s reviews have come in handy for helping government investigations.

Last year, the New York City Health department used the review site to track down the origin of cases of food borne illnesses at local restaurants.

Yelp has not announced when this new database will be available to the public.