Evanston puts restaurant health inspection data on Yelp

Paige Leskin, City Editor

People can now view public restaurant health inspection information for Evanston establishments on business-review site Yelp, the city announced Monday.

Through a partnership with Accela, a company that aims to provide civic engagement and excellence, Evanston has made available to customers a variety of restaurant data, including health scores, inspection dates and violations.

The information will be made available on each business’ page on Yelp, which has both a website and a mobile app that customers use to rate restaurants and places they’ve been to.

Although Evanston has provided health inspection data on its website since 2006, the city is making the transition to Yelp, as more people are likely to look there for relevant information, said Luke Stowe, the city’s digital services coordinator.

“The reality is most people probably are not going to go to their local city website just before they enter a restaurant,” he said. “I think by providing greater access to the data, I think it will probably put additional focus on the restaurants to basically ensure that they’re doing all they can to keep their health inspection scores high.”

The Evanston Health Department inspects restaurants one to three times a year, according to a news release from the city. Staff have used Accela’s resources in the past to keep track of and organize its inspection data.

This addition of health inspection information on Yelp is only one of the initiatives the city is working on to increase its technological savvy and provide “cutting edge solutions” Stowe said.

“It reflects on the city of Evanston and its residents,” he said. “I think, in general, the city of Evanston residents and businesses and other stakeholders are very tech-savvy themselves, so it makes sense that we should do the best we can from a city standpoint.”

Recently, the city has worked to move different payment and permit forms online, as well as introduce web chatting and texting to its 311 information service. 

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Twitter: @paigeleskin