Monday, July 1, 2013

Looking in the Kitchens of Richardson Restaurants

Did you know the City of Richardson's Health Department publishes restaurant inspection scores? Not on the front door of the restaurant, that's for sure (the city doesn't require restaurants to post them). Not on the city's "Dine Smart, Dine Local" promotional emails or website (the city doesn't include inspection scores with the tons of other information they helpfully provide on each restaurant).

The last time I looked at how the city handled this, I wasn't impressed. Hunting through the city's isolated restaurant inspection score website is the only way to find out what the health inspector thinks of your favorite restaurant's kitchen.

After the jump, technology comes to the rescue. If Richardson opens up its database, that is.

This story in The Atlantic tells how San Francisco is working with the restaurant review site Yelp to allow Yelp to easily include the city's inspection scores on a restaurant's information page. The standard they are coming up has some momentum to become a national standard. Come on, Richardson. No way can you compete with Internet companies like Yelp. No way should you even try. Cooperate with them instead. Embrace the power of standard formats and interfaces.

Once you open up the usability of those restaurant scores, Richardson, how about making those inspections of rental properties more usable for potential tenants as well? This story in The Atlantic shows how the House Facts Data Standard (also being pioneered by San Francisco) is about to give consumers a lot more information.

The City of Richardson is doing a lot to ensure the health and safety of people who live, work, and shop in Richardson. It's time to unlock those databases to get that information out to the public in ways that allow the public to make more informed choices of where to live, work, and shop.