Raleigh, NC – Wake County is one of four early adopters of the LIVES data standard – an open data standard which allows municipalities to publish restaurant inspection information that can be consumed by apps like Yelp.
Why Do We Need Data Standards?
We are surrounded by data. Our municipalities collect and store huge amounts of data. So the question is not if we have data, but how is it cataloged and stored. Take a street address for instance. If one municipality lists a street name as “StreetName” and another lists it as “RoadName” in a data file header, we have the beginnings of an interoperability problem. (This is a simple example of differences in the naming, or the ‘metadata’, of a data file. Metadata is a big subject area which will be a future topic for the Journal).
As a person looking at the data titles, we are smart enough to equate both of these titles as being the same thing, but to a machine reading the data, we have a readability problem as the program most likely will not know the similarity of “StreetName” or “RoadName”. So an app that was built to consume data in one municipality might not work in another municipality if the titles, or metadata, are not consistent in some way.
Just think of electric vehicles. If each municipality has a different physical connection to charge a vehicle, no one would think of making an electric vehicle. Standards in data are as important as standards for our consumer items. We want our municipalities to store data in a uniform way for people to access so that they will be able to provide services that are useful to us.
The LIVES Data Standard
In 2013 Code for America made restaurant inspection data readily available to diners — by putting it on Yelp. Working with both government staff and the Yelp team, Code for America created a standardized format for this data, called LIVES.
Developed in collaboration with the City of San Francisco and Yelp, the Local Inspector Value-entry Specification (LIVES) is an open data standard which allows municipalities to publish restaurant inspection information to Yelp or any other website.
Wake County as an Early Adopter
To be continued…
Quotes about LIVES from the Code for America Website