The recent Ebola outbreaks demonstrate the need for current and authoritative health news. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the federal information source for Ebola and other infectious diseases, along with other public health data. Data.CDC.gov lists 48 datasets and views containing statistics from smoking to infectious diseases. Developers can use the Socrata Open Data API to pull JSON data into their apps.
For those who are not developers, the CDC offers a way to embed health data into blogs, websites, and social media. Through Tools.CDC.gov, users can put a microsite into their website or app. A microsite is a self-contained Web page or set of pages that are designed to be inserted into another Web page. Microsites are one way federal government content can be packaged and repurposed—otherwise known as “content syndication.”
As an example, a user wants to include the CDC’s microsite “What’s New | Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever.” The user would click on the “Get Embed Code” tab and paste the code into his or her site. Refresh the page and the content will be delivered to the Web page. All the updating and code changes are handled by the CDC while the data is pushed automatically to the user’s Web page. The CDC also offers documentation to configure the microsite so that it fits in with user’s Web page design and functionality. [Please note that Data.CDC.gov does not currently have Ebola data.]
Preserving the health and general welfare is a Constitutionally-mandated function of the federal government. Open data, APIs, and content syndication are very effective ways of disseminating vital health information, especially when dealing with emerging health emergencies.*API – Application Programming Interface. How software programs and databases share data and functions with each other. Check out APIs in Government for more information. 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 BillBrantley.com.