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Yelp’s LIVES Program Encourages Restaurants to Clean Up Health Scores



In the Spring of 2013, a group of randomly selected restaurateurs in a major U.S. city received a letter in the mail with their most recent restaurant hygiene inspection score. Half of the recipients were also notified that this score would be published on Yelp.

Experiment

After the letters were sent, inspection scores for all restaurants were tracked to identify any changes in performance. The result? Restaurants informed that their score was posted on Yelp tended to clean up their act and have higher scores in their next inspections.

This work stems from Yelp’s Local Inspector Value-entry Specification (or LIVES) program, an open data project we announced in late 2012 to encourage cities to share their data in ways that are easy to ingest on platforms like Yelp. Most consumers aren’t using clunky “dot gov” websites to find helpful hygiene information about the restaurants they frequent, so it makes a lot more sense to give them that information when they are on a site like Yelp.

We now know that when cities share their data with Yelp, restaurants maintain higher health scores and consumers feel more informed, but what happens when Yelp reciprocates and shares its restaurant review data with governments?

An article appearing in Harvard Business Review discusses this question and offers a deeper glimpse into Yelp’s partnerships with governments and academic institutions. We’re excited about the promise the early findings of these studies show and we’re eager to continue similarly useful data sharing for the benefit of consumers.

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