Client Intro

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WE CHU) is the official health agency governing the Windsor and Essex County region. As one of the 36 public health units in Ontario, WE CHU is responsible for administering health promotion and disease prevention programs targeted at informing the public about health lifestyles, communicable disease control, immunization, food premise inspections, health education for all age groups and selected screening services. The WE CHU is a facet of the municipal government.

The Challenge

Food borne illness can come from food exposed to chemicals, contaminated by germs, and from food sensitivities and allergies. Individuals with weaker immune systems, such as the elderly, infants, and individuals with compromised immune systems due to chronic illness, are at a greater risk of contracting foodborne illness. Foodborne illness can be very serious, with effects that can last a life. As a result, promoting food safety is a key responsibility of the Windsor Essex Health Unit.

The Safe Food Counts initiative was developed to provide the Windsor-Essex community with an easy-to-use method of reviewing food safety inspection results for all food establishments in the region. An innovative, easy-to-access and data rich web application would effectively raise consumer awareness of food safety at local restaurants while also reducing the risk of foodborne illness.

The Solution

Wired Solutions responded to the challenge by gathering existing reports and data from previous food safety inspections. Armed with extensive data, Wired Solutions developed a dedicated web database to amalgamate, organize, and store food safety reports. Once this data had been amalgamated, a user-generated search query was developed to allow users to search for food safety reports, recent inspection dates, and the 5-star ratings for their favorite local food establishments. Our complex search engine was programmed to filter data and display user-generated information based on the establishment’s name, address and/or postal code.

Interactive features such as Google Maps, the option to save PDFs for future viewing, one-click emailing of PDF reports, and Facebook sharing were integrated to enhance the user experience.
The addition of the custom plug-in allows for the sharing of relevant data across websites, making it easy for local establishments to incorporate their food safety rating onto their own personal websites.

The web portal and search engine utilize a responsive design framework, ensuring that all user interfaces remain fully accessible via mobile and tablet devices. In order to reduce the larger file sizes that often result from the implementation of responsive design rules, we used minification to remove whitespace from all CSS files, thus yielding a dramatically smaller file size.

In order to ensure that the application provided a truly intuitive, interactive and responsive user experience, Wired Solutions used AngularJS as the client side development platform. With AngularJS, we were able to ensure that common tasks like searching for restaurants, occur instantly, with search results displayed while the user types their terms. In addition, with AngularJS, we were able to develop functionality that allows users to simply click on a restaurant and instantly navigate to a detailed inspection report, without requiring the entire browser to refresh.  The application runs instantaneously, allowing users to retrieve information  in real-time.

Wired Solutions also programmed the application’s search query to support autocomplete functionality, which effectively provides search suggestions as the user types. For example, if a user begins typing “Mc D”, the Safe Food Counts application immediately displays suggested searches such as “McDonalds” or “Mc Dillion’s Pub”, directly below the search box. This functionality effectively reduces the necessity for users to spell the name of the establishment they are searching for, while also ensuring more accurate searches.

Supporting Technologies

  • MySQL database
  • XHTML compliant markup
  • CSS layouts and styling
  • JQUERY client-side scripting
  • AngularJS
  • Responsive Design
  • Minified CSS