Which Boston Restaurants Pass City Food Inspection? Cue: Microsoft Fellow’s New Windows App

| Lauren Metter


Step aside, Gordon Ramsay—there’s a new app in town that swaps your scathing insults for cold hard data. Harvard sophomore and Microsoft Chicago Fellow Gavin Sullivan recently developed an app now available in the Windows Store called Boston Food Inspections. And it just might change where you book your next dinner date.

“The idea originated when I was browsing the data portal released by the City of Chicago,” Sullivan told MSNE of his hometown. “The city released tons and tons of data that’s available to the public. I came across this interesting data on food inspections, and was surprised at how detailed it was and how many restaurants were on the list.”

“I thought it would be interesting to take that information and present it in a way that’s accessible and easy to understand.”

Sullivan’s Boston Food Inspections app visualizes the data as happy and frowny-faced emoticons based on the number of times a restaurant passes and fails different types of inspections. For example, “Food must be stored at a temperature below 50 degrees: pass/fail.”

The concept started with a massive data set of passes and fails from Boston restaurants. Sullivan then used Microsoft Excel to file through all of that data and sort it in a way that could be translated into an app.

“Excel allowed me to store things really nicely, narrow down the huge data set and create something that I could then present as an app,” Sullivan explained.

After modifying the data, he went to Project Siena (a Microsoft program in beta testing that anyone can download from the Windows Store). Siena allows you to create applications for your desktop using commands similar to Excel commands.

“Siena is easy to use for someone who’s new to coding and app development,” Sullivan said.

We asked Sullivan if he ever eats out anymore after seeing all of this food inspection data.

“To be honest, I’m not too much of a good cook,” he told us. “So I still eat out. But it’s definitely surprising to see how many things restaurants do wrong when looking at this data.”

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