NYC to add scan Codes to restaurant grades

DECODE: You’ll be able to get grade info on your phone.

Want to know why your favorite restaurant or deli got a less-than-stellar grade on its health inspection?

Soon the answer will be a smartphone click away.
Under a bill passed by the City Council yesterday, city agencies will be required to attach scannable codes, such as Quick Response markers, to permits, licenses and registrations they issue so anyone with a smartphone can instantly download all the dirty details.

Patrons who spot a poor rating in a restaurant window will be able to find its permit, which must be publicly displayed, and scan the QR code to get the details behind the grade.
Widely available decoder apps allow smartphone users to read QR and other bar codes by taking a pictures of them.

But the code won’t be on the letter grade itself, one official pointed out.
The bill, sponsored by Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan), passed in a 46-0 vote yesterday.
The bar codes are mandated when an agency provides more information on its Web site than it does on the publicly posted permit.

The law would take effect a year after Mayor Bloomberg signs it.
City officials endorse the idea but say it would affect only a handful of agencies, including the Health and Buildings departments and the Parks Department, which regulates food carts.
But Garodnick said the law’s impact would expand as more agencies make records available online.
“I think that’s true today,” he said of the law’ s limitations. “I don’t think that’s true for the future.”

First on the list will be the Health Department, a repository of all sorts of useful information, from widely publicized restaurant cleanliness grades to day-care center inspection results.
Restaurant grades have to be prominently displayed, usually in the window. Permits have to be posted only in public view, which could mean behind the bar or above the cash register.
Garodnick said that shouldn’t be an issue because owners will be slapped with fines if they get sneaky.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the one-click technology would help residents “make smart, informed choices and also help us monitor what’s going on in the city.”
Without prodding from the council, the Buildings Department in February 2011 added QR codes to permits at construction sites.

Garodnick said he decided to enact legislation after the council enacted an open-disclosure law forcing city agencies to post on the Internet all nonconfidential or proprietary data and the administration was being “resistant” to adding the bar codes.

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