This is another one of those things we mean by open governance. Dodgy restaurants exposed in new iPhone app
A new iPhone app will tell you if a nearby restaurant has been fined for breach of food safety standards.Public information publicly accessible. cool.
The application, FoodWatch NSW, brings the Food Authority's name-and-shame list to your fingertips by using the iPhone's GPS to show you a list of restaurants near your location that have been added to the list.
The software was developed by mogeneration and sources the data from the NSW Food Authority list on its website.
Chief executive officer of mogeneration Keith Ahern said that, when members of the company saw the list on the website, they thought the information provided was really valuable and useful.
"While I think a lot of restaurants aren't happy about it [the list], you can see the information and make your own decision," he said.
Clearly aware of the potential controversy FoodWatch can create, Ahern points out that the application merely presents freely available information in a more readily accessible way.
"We're not making any editorial decisions on the data, we're really just publicising what is freely available. It's not going to victimise any businesses disproportionately," he said.
The tool gives the user the ability to view the list any time, wherever the user is.
But Ahern is being disingenuous about the effect of the app. If I'm looking for an eatery and I have a choice, I will go to the ones that have NOT been fined for non-compliance.
In the past, these businesses have relied on the protection of the herd, somewhere there IS a list and yes they ARE on it and you COULD, theoretically, find it and read it but they are not required to put that information inside a skull and crossbones sign on their front door.
The problem has always been in getting the right information at the right time and place. Along with FOAF reviews of restaurants in your neigbourhood, their compliance with health codes will make a difference to their business if enough people get access to the tools.
And it WILL be discriminatory, if you are on the list, expect to see your business take a hit.