This Week in Transparency: The Viral Flu App & Dirty Restaurants

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The “Get a Flu Shot” app is an interesting case study of how civic apps can replicate across cities if there is sufficient demand and if the pre-existing relationships are in place. In less than 36 hours the app, which was originally created in Chicago, was replicated in Boston thanks to the facilitation of Code for America. A key pillar of our strategy in Latin America aims to link government innovation officers from across Latin American cities so that apps and innovations can replicate efficiently.

Yelp finally announced that it will incorporate restaurant inspection data into their restaurant profile pages. This has long been a demand from open data evangelists like David Eaves and Alissa Black. Following the announcement, Black writes that “Yelp’s move to incorporate health inspection information is a huge step for open data.” Restaurant inspection disclosure is cited in the book Full Disclosure as one of the most effective uses of pro-active government transparency. However, a recent paper by Stanford professor Daniel E. Ho (cute title: “Fudging the Nudge”) found that there is little evidence that restaurant inspection disclosure leads to greater cleanliness and hygiene:

In San Diego, grade inflation reigns. Nearly all restaurants receive ‘A’s. In New York, inspections exhibit little substantive consistency. A good score does not meaningfully predict cleanliness down the road. Unsurprisingly, New York’s implementation of letter grading in 2010 has not discernably reduced manifestations of foodborne illness. Perhaps worse, the system perversely shifts inspection resources away from higher health hazards to resolve grade disputes.

The Knight Foundation announces the eight latest projects to each win a share of $2.4 million in the latest News Challenge including a mobile tool kit to be developed by Digital Democracy that will enable residents of the Peruvian Amazon to document the effects of mining and oil drilling. Another selected project, Textizen enables governments to poll resident through text message. Next City profiled Textizen back in June.

My Upcoming Events

Papers I Plan on Reading This Week

None! I still have yet to read last week’s papers. :(

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