I’ve never been a fan of Yelp, the online mega guide to service and quality among businesses, and for the purposes of this article, restaurants, but now they may finally have a use for the greater good, as opposed to just themselves.
As linked to on MSN.com’s news feed today, an article from the website Fastcompany.com cites, “Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report detailed how Yelp reviews are being used by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to find health code violations in New York City”. Software built by Columbia University made short work of sifting through 300,000 review to find leads to repeat offenders by cross-checking multiple reports of diarrhea or vomiting after a meal. Food poisoning bad enough to make one that sick will have a quick turnaround as far as from the time of ingestion to the manifestation of symptoms, so it’s a good bet if 10 people get sick after eating at “Chow’s Kosherama and Squid Shack”, the CDC has ample justification to go in and check out their nasty digs.
As an ongoing experiment, it offers hope to resource-strapped city agencies by leveraging social media to crunch the numbers and get to these rancid restaurants before they cripple their customers with gastrointestinal upset. Let’s hope the experiment goes viral and spreads as fast as word among friends of a cockroach in a kitchen at your local diner.