Could the LIVES standard reduce food poisonings?

May 11, 2015 8:59 am PST | Data as a Service

Open data can be a lifesaver.

That’s not hyperbole. I’m a two-time E. Coli food poisoning survivor and a professional with a decade of experience in open government. I know food safety and restaurant inspection scores can decrease food poisoning rates, but too many scores are buried on government websites and databases. Open data and score standards can change that, by making scores more widely available and intuitive for consumers.

Local Inspector Value-Entry Specification (LIVES), is an open data standard which normalizes restaurant inspection scores across jurisdictions, allowing consumers to get a sense for restaurant food safety compliance across municipalities and within their home town. It’s a 0 to 100 score, with 100 as the top score. It’s a score format that doesn’t need much explaining for consumers. Key components of the score, like improper hand washing or incorrect food temperature, can be noted in the LIVES score details. Launched in 2013 as a project between San Francisco, Socrata, Code for America, and Yelp, the standard is now used in several US cities and counties.

I’m proud to join Socrata as Public Health Data Advisor, coordinating more than a dozen governments who will publish their restaurant inspection scores in LIVES and make it available for third parties like Yelp to present LIVES scores on restaurant’s Yelp pages. I’m hopeful greater access to this data will nudge food borne illness rates lower and reward restaurants who prioritize proper food handling practices with more patrons.

We’re launching Socrata’s LIVES Access Program (LAP) this spring to support governments in getting their restaurant inspection scores into LIVES. Governments will join cohorts (made up of four to 10 other governments) for two months, where they’ll be guided through LIVES setup, normalization, and publishing in open data. LAP is designed to leverage best practices from other LIVES-producing governments. With fewer than 50 total hours of staff time, governments will get inspection scores published in LIVES. Socrata’s team will do once monthly group video calls and one-on-one video calls when needed. Governments will apply lessons within their team, building up skills in open data standards coordination and normalization. They’ll also share their experience within cohorts of peer governments, benefiting from learning together and sharing strategies. Each cohort will launch LIVES within two months of their start date.

The first LIVES Access Program cohort will start June 13th, and three cohorts will run between June 13th and September 30th. Interested in doing the LIVES Access Program? Let us know! We’ll follow up with a 15 minute call to talk more about the program and place your government in a cohort.




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