The API Briefing: An API that Searches other APIs – HealthData.Gov’s Catalog API

Aug 6, 2014
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As federal agencies release APIs on an almost daily basis, keeping track of the numerous datasets has become a vital service for developers. The Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) manages HealthData.Gov which currently lists 1,680 datasets in 36 categories such as “Public Health,” “Health Care Cost,” and “Health Statistics.” To help developers find relevant datasets and keep up with newly-added datasets, the API was created. Developers can use the Catalog API to search the catalog and receive meta-information about a dataset in the JSON format.

The HealthData.Gov Catalog API is built on the open source data portal CKAN. CKAN is designed to list, share, and find datasets for many government and non-profit organizations. What makes CKAN especially effective is the built-in API, which, in this case, powers the HealthData.Gov Catalog. Another federal data repository that uses CKAN is Data.Gov which uses the Data.Gov CKAN API for accessing Data.Gov’s catalog.

There are still many federal datasets that need to be released as APIs and federal agencies are working hard to publish government data for app developers and the general public. Thanks to the CKAN API that powers HealthData.Gov and Data.Gov, it’s easier to discover current and newly-released federal APIs.Each week in “The API Briefing,” I will showcase government APIs and the latest API news and trends. Visit this blog every week to learn how government APIs are transforming government and improving government services for the American people. If you have ideas for a topic or have questions about APIs, please contact me via email.

Dr. William A. Brantley, PMP, is a Program Analyst, in Forecasting and Methods at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). You can find out more about his work in this space at