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Civic Data Standards Featured in the Atlantic

Earlier this year, we partnered with the City of San Francisco and Yelp to develop and deploy a data standard for restaurant inspection scores, called LIVES. Data standards, such as LIVES or Open311, are simply an agreed upon, common format for publishing information that make it easier for platforms to integrate that information in any city. (Think of it as basically a spreadsheet template.) The LIVES standard enabled Yelp to feature San Francisco’s restaurant inspection data, and now many more cities are keen on joining them. (And CfA is helping them through our Peer Network program.)

Just yesterday, The Atlantic featured LIVES and illustrated why such standards are important:

Information like this was already available online—San Francisco has been publishing health-inspection scores on a drab government Web site since 2007, while New York City has its own app, called ABCEats. Not surprisingly, diners don’t seem to be going out of their way to look up the data. But when cities make information that’s already technically public really public on a consumer platform, it becomes instantly more visible (to the dismay of some restaurants). Cities have already learned this with public-transportation data: because many transit agencies publish data feeds from their bus and train routes, Google Maps and other applications can plot your trip across Manhattan not just by car, but also by subway. In the future, the same type of data sharing could bring building-code violations to Craigslist, or parking-meter rates to your GPS.

Expect more to come on this front from CfA, not just on restaurant inspections, but on other, equally important civic datasets.