Tag Archives: API

Innovations in APIs: Guest blogger for Digitalgov Platform

Closed - a photo of a pie with 20% missing20%: In order to open up data for developer use, agencies are implementing APIs. This position makes you a writer for the code channel of the DigitalGov platform which focuses on ways agencies are releasing APIs and using code for their digital efforts. Once a week we will feature a post on an API an agency has implemented or other useful information. Posts should be composed in less than an hour to help keep focus on simplicity and speed. Continue reading

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Improving our digital services to better serve you

Throughout this past year, the National Archives and Federal agencies have been working to implement the Digital Government Strategy by improving digital services to better serve you.

We’ve worked toward specific milestones that improve access to government information and we launched Archives.gov/digitalstrategy to report on our progress.  We sought your ideas for improvement in August and now you can see our progress toward making available mobile appsand web APIs.

Mobile:  We’ve mobile optimized FederalRegister.gov, released a mobile site for Presidential Documents, and a mobile app called “To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” which makes available photos, documents, and recordings from the related exhibit.

Screenshot of Smartphone Pres Docs

Presidential Docs Mobile Site

Screenshot To the Brink Mobile App

To the Brink Mobile App 

Web APIs: We’ve expanded the FederalRegister.gov API to include the Public Inspection Desk and integration with Regulations.gov.  We’ve also included created an interactive dataset and API for Executive Orders from 1994 to 2012 on Data.gov.

We continue to increase the records we make available on sites like Wikipedia and Flickr, which have robust mobile and web API capabilities.  These projects, in addition to our work on the Digital Public Library of America, greatly expand public access to government records.

Map of National Day of Civic Hacking

Engaging Developers:  We launched Archives.gov/developer to promote innovative uses of our data and tools in the public and private sectors.  We’re participating in the National Day of Civic Hacking on June 1-2, 2013, by sponsoring several challenges related to visualizing historical datasets and developing a mobile app for researchers to easily upload digital images of historical records.  We’re looking forward to see what innovative solutions might be developed by the public.

All of our efforts, however, are only a piece of the larger Federal Government effort to improve digital services.  You can check out other agencies’ developer hubs and new mobile services and APIs, including a new API for the State Department’s Office of the Historian Ebook Catalog, which contains all of the ebooks from the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series.

Reblogged from NARAtions, the blog of the National Archives, with a hat tip to OCIO.GOV

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One-Year Anniversary of the Digital Government Strategy: HUD Releases Two APIs

The Digital Government Strategy, which was published on May 23, 2012, set out to accomplish three things:

  • Enable the American people and an increasingly mobile workforce to access high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device.
  • Ensure that as the government adjusts to this new digital world, we seize the opportunity to procure and manage devices, applications, and data in smart, secure and affordable ways.
  • Unlock the power of government data to spur innovation across our Nation and improve the quality of services for the American people.

In order to better communicate with the public, HUD is making information available through multiple formats and increasing access to services on mobile devices.  Our goal is to make our services and information available anywhere, anytime, and on any device, and in formats that facilitate additional use by public developers and entrepreneurs.

To date, we have released two APIs, which are located at www.hud.gov/developer. The Housing Counselor Web Service allows searching by name, city, state, and current location to find information regarding Housing Counseling Agencies. The Section 3 Business Lookup allows searching by location, zip code, and business type to find information on Section 3 businesses. To learn about Section 3, visit.

These APIs are for public use and are intended to provide developers, researches, entrepreneurs and others with the ability to access HUD data in ways that make it easier to use and program.  The release of this data, in alignment with the new Open Data Policy, will help achieve the goal of making previously inaccessible or unmanageable data easily available to entrepreneurs, innovators, researchers, and others who can use the data to generate new products and services, build businesses, and create jobs.

Today, nearly 50% of American adults own a smart phone. In May of last year, when the Digital Government Strategy was released, that number was only 35% of adults. Recently, HUD launched the first housing discrimination app to provide the public with a quick, easy and safe way to learn about their fair housing rights and, whenever necessary, file fair housing complaints. The housing discrimination app is available in the iTunes store.

The Fair Market Rents app, which is a map-based app that allows users to search Fair Market Rents and income limits by current location or by metropolitan area, county, zip code and/or address is also available to the public.  The app may be downloaded from HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research’s website.

To learn about HUD’s digital strategy, and you can see more.

Reposted from The HUDdle blog of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Make Mobile Gov with the Mobile Application Development Program

Mobile Application Development ProgramAnytime, Anywhere, Any Device.

The 21st century imperative to deliver government information and services to the public anytime, anywhere and on any device makes mobile a critical tactic in the federal Digital Government Strategy. Today, GSA’s Digital Services Innovation Center and the Federal CIO Council launch the Mobile Application Development Program to provide agencies with tools they need to make great mobile products available to the public.

The program–developed with and by 25 agencies across government–will help agencies in each stage of mobile development.

  • Plan –Build a mobile strategy, see what other agencies have done, use new acquisitions tools to find top mobile developers.
  • Develop –Create great mobile apps and sites using mobile user experience guidelines. Jump start development by leveraging pre-existing code.
  • Test –Make sure your app works on all devices by leveraging automated and in the wild testing support. Test for security & accessibility.
  • Launch –Let people know yours is an official government app by registering it. Get your app in the app stores and leverage API’s for promoting your apps.

What’s In It?

The program is chock full of useful resources and tools. For starters there is

  • RFP-EZ helps link agencies and small businesses for tech projects below $150,000–definitely a sweet spot for many mobile products. The idea is to help agencies reach the talent in startups more quickly and at reasonable cost. We worked with the RFP-EZ team at SBA to include mobile statement of work templates. Now when agencies create a new project in RFP-EZ, they can jumpstart their efforts by choosing the “Mobile Application Development” project type.
  • Agencies can easily create mobile ready websites using Sites.USA.gov. This GSA-hosted content management tool supports open content, is secure, compliant and uses only responsive themes that work well on any-sized screen.

The Federal Apps Registry helps verify that apps and mobile sites are actually government mobile products–and provides an API so agencies can easily create galleries around their mission areas.

Just Do It

You can use these and many more tools and resources today. And, you can join us for a discussion about the Mobile Application Development Program May 30th at our webinar, or come see us live later that day at our Mobile Gov Wikithon.

Last, we need YOU to help us as we continue to develop new tools to help you develop citizen-focused mobile products. Tell us what you need at digitalgov@gsa.gov.

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Provide alt-text language for the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) page on the Mobile Gov Wiki

Closed tapas taskTapas:
Write up an alt-text description that completely and succinctly describes the image and includes the data shown in the graph on the following page in the Mobile Gov Wiki: Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

Description will be in plain text (no bold, italics, bullets, links, etc) that will be read via a screen reader. The description can be submitted via email or in a document–so long as it can be cut and pasted into our file. Thanks for helping to make content more accessible!

Duration: A few minutes to an hour.

Deadline: One week after the task has been assigned.

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Share an API insight story with others

Closed tapas taskTapas: Help us tell a success story! If your agency has begun generating APIs, you have plenty of insight and experience to share with your fellow agencies. Identify one or two key people in your agency who have a cool story to tell.  Interview them with the following questions:

  1. What is your story?  (a brief description)
  2. What problem are you trying to solve?
  3. How did you solve the problem?
  4. What are the results/impact?

Send back the completed responses to digitalgov@gsa.gov.  You can see other agency case studies here.

Duration: This task should take 2-4 hours.

Deadline: Ongoing

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Build a Facebook widget for the Social Media Registry


Closed tapas taskTapas: Develop a widget that consumes the Social Media Registry API  in order to display the most recent facebook activity from across all government Facebook channels (as listed in the registry).

The Social Media Registry is an official source of information about social media accounts that represent official U.S. federal government agencies, elected officials, or members of the President’s Cabinet.  Check out some example applications. 

Duration: Two to four hours

Deadline: Two weeks after accepting the task

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Expand the API material on Howto.gov

Closed tapas taskTapas: Beginning at HowTo.Gov/api, suggest updates to expand and improve a section of this API guidance.

Duration: One to 2 hours.

Deadline: One week after accepting the task

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Here’s to Your Health

Editor’s Note: We are featuring the work agencies are doing keeping with the letter and spirit of the Digital Strategy. This is on the value of APIs.

HHS has collected more than 284 datasets at healthdata.gov and the inventory is currently growing by almost 100 per year. Thirty-three of these databases are already API enabled. One of the largest is the HealthCare Finder API, which opens multiple data collections covering public and private health insurance plans.

Screenshot of US News Health Plan Finder

U.S. News & World Report uses the HHS HealthCare Finder API to create a tool to help consumers find the Best Health Insurance Plans for their specific needs. Their web-based Best Health Insurance Plans rates plans based on coverage and costs (both monthly and out-of-pocket), and makes it easy for users to find plans top-rated plans available to them. “We at U.S. News are thrilled to have access to the HealthCare Finder API and the important health insurance data it makes publicly available,” said Ben Harder, General Manager of Health Rankings at U.S. News. “Using the API, U.S. News has rated thousands of health plans across America, making it easier for individuals and families to compare their options and make better insurance-purchasing decisions.”

Other APIs provide access to information on the quality of provider care, the quality of hospital and nursing home care, a directory of federally qualified health centers, National Library of Medicine and Medline Plus resources, cancer incidence, FDA recalls, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s TOXMAP (Healthdata.gov includes datasets from across the U.S. Government).

Reblogged from the HHS Open Data Blog.

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Seeking Your Input for USDA’s Digital Strategy

This entry was reposted from the USDA Blog.

On May 23, 2012, the White House released the Federal Digital Strategy aimed at building a 21stcentury government provides open data and digital services to the American people and its employees.

As part of our Digital Strategy, USDA has identified several first-move candidates that can be improved to meet the call for web APIs and mobile optimized services by May 23, 2013.

We’d like your input in deciding which two candidates in each category we will commit to completing by OMB’s May 23, 2013 deadline. We’d love to hear your feedback – which of these candidates would be most useful to you? What should we consider when creating web APIs and optimizing for mobile? Did we miss anything?

We have identified the following first-move candidates to make available as web Application Programming Interfaces (APIs):

Name: World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates
: Provides USDA’s comprehensive forecasts of supply and demand for major U.S. and global crops and U.S. livestock. The report gathers information from a number of statistical reports published by USDA and other government agencies, and provides a framework for additional USDA reports.
Main Customers:
Government, Business, Media, Education Institutions, Consumers

Name: National Farmers Market Directory
Agricultural Marketing Service-produced directory containing information about U.S. farmers market locations, directions, operating times, product offerings, and accepted forms of payment. Supports local and regional food systems, as well as development of local economies.
Main Customers:
Consumers, Business, Community leaders

Name: List of Disaster Counties
Farm Service Agency list of Counties with a specific disaster designation.
Main Customers:
Producers, Farmers, Government, Media

Name: Office Information Profile System
USDA Service Centers are designed to be a single location where customers can access the services provided by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Rural Development agencies. This tool provides the address of a USDA Service Center and other Agency offices serving your area along with information on how to contact them.
Main Customers:
Government, Business, Public

Name: SNAP Retailer Locator information
Find a retailer welcomes Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefits Transaction (EBT) customers. Currently available as an interactive map with geocoded information available by download as a .CSV file. Locations updated monthly
Main Customers:

The following list includes high-value USDA service candidates to potentially be optimized for mobile use:

Name: Meat, Poultry and Egg Product Inspection Directory
The Meat, Poultry and Egg Product Inspection Directory is a listing of establishments that produce meat, poultry, and/or egg products regulated by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) pursuant to the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act. Directory is updated monthly.
Main Customers:
Business, Industry, Government, Consumers

Name: USDA Newsroom
The USDA Newsroom holds official news releases, statements, transcripts and speeches released by the Department.
Main Customers:
Government, Public, Media

Name: USDA Blog
The Blog features content from all USDA agencies and features the latest news, events and features. The Blog also provides the public an opportunity to ask questions or share their thoughts about the latest issues.
Main Customers:
Government, Public, Media

Name: AmberWaves eZine
As the Economic Research Service’s (ERS) flagship publication, Amber Waves provides a window into ERS research through highly readable articles geared to educated but non-specialized audiences. Amber Waves covers important issues on U.S. markets & trade, diet & health, resources & environment, rural issues in easy to digest articles, with comprehensive links to ERS website for more details.
Main Customers:
Government, Media, Researchers, Education Institutions

Name: Office Information Profile System

Description: USDA Service Centers are designed to be a single location where customers can access the services provided by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Rural Development agencies. This tool provides the address of a USDA Service Center and other Agency offices serving your area along with information on how to contact them.
Main Customers:
Government, Business, Public

Please leave comments on regarding your choices on the USDA blog post.

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Building-Blocks of a 21st Century Digital Government

Cover from report: Digital Government, Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People, May 23, 2012Today marks three months since we released the Digital Government Strategy (PDF/ HTML5) – as part of thePresident’s directive to build a 21st Century Government that delivers better services to the American people.

Executing on this vision of government cannot happen alone. To provide the highest value of services, we must rethink from step one how government builds and provides services for the American people. We must unlock rich government data, information and services so that everyone from citizen developers and private sector entrepreneurs, to our very own Federal agencies can help provide the American people with the access to these services “anywhere, anytime, on any device.”

Today agencies are making great strides towards putting a solid foundation for a 21st Century Digital Government in place.

For example, the Census Bureau recently released its first mobile app, called “America’s Economy,” and just today released an iOS version. The app mashes up Census data with economic statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics and provides the latest economic indicators that drive business hiring, sales, and production decisions throughout the nation in real time. Economists, planners, business owners, and the public can use the app to get a quick and easy snapshot of the health of the U.S. economy, look at trends, and receive notifications when indicators change. But as powerful as the app is, just as powerful is the way Census is releasing the underlying data through its first publicly available application programming interface (API).

The Census API, which pulls from the American Community Survey and the 2010 Census, has yielded an unprecedented level of interest from citizen developers. Over 800 external developers have already accessed the API since its release, and users have generated over 24 million data requests. And as an indication of how valuable and accessible this data is, it took only 24 hours for the first third-party app to be developed and we are excited to see the many more applications that will be developed using this data.

This is just one example of the power of unlocking rich government data sets and services to the public and is exactly what the Digital Government Strategy is trying to accomplish. But it is just the beginning.

Today, every major Federal agency is posting candidate data sets and services to open up over the next several months. While many focus on providing better services directly to the public, others focus on increasing internal government efficiencies to save taxpayer dollars. For example, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is planning to develop a mobile app for its revenue agents that will allow them to accept a paper check from a taxpayer, take a picture, and automatically deposit it for posting to the taxpayer’s account.

You can link to each of the agency lists via http://www.whitehouse.gov/digitalgov/deliverables, and I encourage you to weigh in on which candidates you think are the highest value. There, you can also find links to other recent products of the Strategy aimed at providing agencies with the tools they need to be successful and scaling existing best practices across government:

  • A bring-your-own-device (BYOD) toolkit for agencies considering implementation of a BYOD program;
  • A report on how the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) standards and guidelines are evolving to meet the challenge of mobile security;
  • Recommendations on how agencies can stand up effective digital services governance structures; and
  • Performance measurements tools that will help drive data-driven decision making around the Federal web space.

It’s been a busy three months, and I look forward to adding more building-blocks in the months ahead as we continue to deliver on the President’s vision of a more modern, efficient, and accessible government for the 21st Century.

Reposted from The White House Blog.

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