Impact Evaluation of NYC Hygiene Program and Restaurants’ Compliance using Crowdsourcing Analytics

Ajay Kumar (Emlyon Business School, France), Samuel Kaplan (The University of Minnesota, USA), Ram Gopal (Warwick Business School, UK)


Everybody loves to eat out at a restaurant once in a while, but occasionally people become ill, with ailments ranging from an upset stomach to life-threatening, food-borne illness. There is a certain level of protection for customers in the form of health inspection programs, but these inspections cannot be carried out very frequently. Because of this, hygiene in restaurants is not monitored constantly and, therefore, the standard between inspections is unknown. In this paper, we are trying to investigate whether Yelp online reviews can be effectively used in these interim periods to gauge restaurant hygiene, in conjunction with the traditional inspection program. Our aim is to retrieve textual information from these reviews that indicates the status of restaurant hygiene; it is possible that, even if a restaurant has been inspected and certified, its standard may have slipped and a hygiene violation has subsequently occurred. In this way, an impact evaluation of NYC’s hygiene program can be performed to determine its effect on the hygiene standards and practices of establishments. Data from hygiene inspections carried out in New York City between 2013 and 2018, alongside online reviews on Yelp for the same restaurants, will be used to evaluate variables that measure hygiene.