Photo:Bill Brantley

Bill Brantley

USPTO | Washington D.C.

News and Events

The API Briefing: Back to School – U.S. Department of Education APIs

As the new school season approaches, it is a good time to see what federal datasets are available for educational app developers. Visit the developers’ page at to find 36 educational datasets for educational levels. The datasets can be accessed in CSV, JSON,
Aug 20, 2014

The API Briefing: Writable APIs – The Federal Commenting Feature just released a writable API that allows citizens to comment directly on proposed regulations. When a user is viewing a regulation on, he or she can click on the “Submit a Formal Comment” button. A textbox appears, and the comment is recorded for that particular regulation.
Aug 13, 2014

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

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
Aug 06, 2014

The API Briefing: Mapping Food Deserts – The USDA Economic Research Service’s GIS Map Services

Food deserts are areas where residents have little or no access to nutritional food. Food deserts exist because of low-incomes, lack of transportation, or too few stores that stock produce and other healthy food items. Governments from the local level to federal have implemented grant programs to encourage grocery store construction in the food deserts.
Jul 23, 2014

The API Briefing: RealTrack – How Hackathons Help Create Apps from APIs

Once a federal agency releases an API, there are several ways they can be used in apps. The most common method is through hackathons. Hackathons are where an agency or agencies present the API(s) and invite developers to create prototype apps. The apps
Jul 16, 2014

Lean Startup: Changing Government Services and Agencies to Better Serve the Citizens

It is easy to start a business today and especially an Internet-based business. Using the cloud, APIs, and hosted applications, an entrepreneur can quickly build a website/mobile app. The entrepreneur can hire freelancers to do everything from creating a logo to writing a business plan. Virtual assistant services can provide on-demand staff to meet business
Jul 11, 2014

The API Briefing: How APIs Provide Localized Information – NOAA’s Weather Service Data and FCC’s Broadband Services Map

The two featured APIs this week are excellent demonstrations of personalizing federal government data by where a user lives. Federal agencies collect a considerable amount of community data, from the Census Bureau’s surveys to the FDA’s local agricultural conditions. Thanks to GPS, app developers can locate a user’s immediate geographical location and tailor information based
Jul 09, 2014

The API Briefing: APIs Come In Many (Data) Flavors

This week, we will look at three different APIs that demonstrate how agencies use different technologies to serve out data. Presenting data in various formats encourages developers to build on federal APIs. As past columns have shown, the innovative apps created with federal data are quickly growing. The latest API news this week is how
Jul 02, 2014

The API Briefing: The Census Bureau’s Discovery Tool – Find the Right API for Your App

The Census Bureau recently released a “machine-readable dataset discovery service” that lists 41 Census data sets. It’s in spreadsheet form and gives a description of the datasets along with links to the API and developer documentation. What makes the discovery service machine readable is that’s based on Project Open Data’s “Common Core Metadata Schema” that
Jun 25, 2014

The API Briefing: Department of State’s Model App – Education USA

Not only does the Department of State have a great set of APIs, State also has an excellent example of how to build an informative and useful app. EducationUSA is a network of State Department advisers who help international students apply for U.S. university programs.
Jun 18, 2014

The API Briefing: Quick Guide to Using GitHub – FDA’s OpenFDA Research Project

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just released the OpenFDA Research Project. At the heart of the project is the OpenFDA API, which allows developers to perform searches on FDA’s drug information database. Coming soon is the ability to search FDA information on medical devices and information about food. Visit the
Jun 11, 2014

The API Briefing: NARA’s Federal Register API – Learning How APIs Work

Application programming interfaces (APIs) can be confusing when people first hear of the concept. There are the many acronyms like REST (Representational State Transfer) and JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) that further obscure what APIs do. The idea behind APIs is quite simple: APIs are how computer programs share information between themselves. You can experience this for
Jun 04, 2014

The API Briefing: NIH’s Pillbox – Unlocking Valuable Government Health Information through APIs

The Food and Drug Administration collects drug labeling information for human prescription, over-the-counter, homeopathic, and veterinary products through a special markup language called “Structured Product Labeling” (SPL). The database created from the SPL submissions is a treasure trove of health information that is valuable
May 28, 2014

The API Briefing: Keeping up with Federal Employee Training – DOD’s xAPI

Federal employee training is about to receive a much-needed boost in the President’s 2015 Budget Request. Training is essential to the federal workforce and agencies have a number of learning management systems to deliver online training along with the traditional classroom training. The problem is that all of these training sources don’t share information with
May 21, 2014

The API Briefing: USDA’s Farmers Market Directory API

Around the D.C. area, one of the first signs of spring are the numerous farmers markets. In my neighborhood alone, I regularly visit four farmers markets that have a wide variety of produce and baked goods. Farmers markets are good for the local economy, and the easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables helps local
May 13, 2014

PolicyOps—A Better Way to Create and Implement Government Policies and Programs?

“PolicyOps” is a better way to create and implement government policies and programs through cutting-edge data analytics and new collaboration methods. PolicyOps (“Policy” plus “Operations”) is a new proposal for improving policy making and policy implementation. Based on a cutting-edge IT management method, DevOps (“Development” plus “Operations”), PolicyOps has two major concepts. First, closer collaboration
Apr 10, 2014