Restaurant owners may soon fear Yelp for more than just bad reviews. The NYC Department of Health has begun employing data gleaned from restaurant reviews on the popular social network to pin-point violations and cases of food poisoning. The project was initially a collaboration between Yelp and Columbia University, who ran nine months of trials spanning 2012 and 2013. A computer algorithm was used to scour almost 300,000 reviews. This yielded just under 900 potential cases of food poisoning. This data set was then sorted manually and resulted in three restaurants being found with numerous violations.
DOH admits that process is "relatively resource intensive" because they are required to contact the reviewers directly before investigating, in other words they are not taking the review itself at face value. They feel it is worth the effort because many "diners appeared not to know about New York's existing health reporting line and they expect that people will increasingly be posting their complaints through various forms of social media." The DOH plans on expanding the program to include additional restaurant review sites.
· Yelp Reviews Can Reveal Sources of Food Poisoning [The Verge]
· All Coverage of the Department of Health [~ENY~]