2015 Top 25
City of Chicago, IL
Innovations in American Government Awards

On March 23, 2013, the Chicago Department of Public Health and the SmartChicago Collaborative launched the FoodBorne Chicago web application with the goal of improving food safety in Chicago. FoodBorne Chicago tracks tweets using a supervised machine-learning algorithm that identifies the keywords of “food poison” within the Chicago area. This tool allows residents to report a food poisoning incident through 311 after the program identifies tweets with possible cases of food poisoning. The team then tweets back a link to submit an online web form where residents can identify where they ate, the date and time they frequented the restaurant, their symptoms, and send it through Open311. The information is sent directly to the Department of Public Health and, if warranted, an inspection team visits the restaurant in question and then lets the resident know the status of the investigation via e-mail. The algorithm gets smarter at identifying related tweets as the team replies to residents that are suspected to have a potential case of food poisoning to report. If several complaints occur together, these clusters can be investigated to prevent further illnesses from developing.