Review site Yelp hopes to transform itself into a useful tool in the public health sphere. According to a press release, the company is partnering up with Socrata, a social data discovery service. Socrata works with governments and other "public sector organizations" to make data more sharable and thus, improve transparency. Together, the two companies hope to "distribute important restaurant inspection information and help improve public health conditions in communities all over the world."
By adding Yelp to its open source network, the review site and Socrata hope to help governments get data from restaurant inspections into the hands of consumers around the world by presenting complicated data in an easy-to-digest, familiar format. (Typically, finding restaurant inspection information in the annals of government databases proves challenging, and many cities in the United States do not publish inspection results in a format that's accessible and easy-to-digest for average consumers.) In this partnership, the data could be integrated onto the restaurant's business page. Essentially, Yelp is finally becoming useful.
Socrata isn't the first company to find Yelp useful in the public health arena. The New York City Health Department combed through Yelp reviews to find unreported cases of foodborne illnesses.