With help from an Allstate Insurance research team, the City of Chicago has reportedly developed a model to predict which food establishments might fail inspections among the more than 15,000 restaurants within the city’s jurisdiction. The research teams analyzed nearly 100,000 sanitation inspection reports to create the prediction model, which assesses the likelihood that a food establishment will commit a critical violation.

According to a city report, key factors include (i) whether the establishment has a previous critical or serious violation, (ii) the three-day average high temperature, (iii) nearby garbage and sanitation complaints, (iv) nearby burglaries, and (v) the length of time the establishment has been operating. The city tested the model in a doubleblind retrodiction of September and October 2014, finding that following its algorithm would have resulted in 69 percent of violations being found in the first month compared to the 55 percent that the existing inspection order had yielded. “That is, an additional 37 establishments would have been cited for violations the first month, as opposed to being discovered later, potentially after patrons became ill,” the report states. The city has begun using the model to prioritize inspections while continuing a 2013 initiative to track complaints of food poisoning on social media. See Chicago Tribune, July 6, 2015.