API

The New FEC.gov

Last week, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) unveiled their new website at FEC.gov. This new site is the result of a years-long collaboration with GSA’s 18F and features completely revamped tools for exploring campaign finance data. It provides user-centered content for understanding the reporting and compliance requirements for people participating in federal elections, redesigned tools for exploring legal resources, and more. Why it matters On the agency’s “About the FEC” page, it says, “The FEC was created to promote confidence and participation in the democratic process.

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The Data Briefing: The Department of Education Needs Your Help with their First Developers’ Site

The Department of Education (ED) launched its first developer site. The developer site is built on GitHub which will make it easier for ED to centralize their code and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Currently, ten APIs are on the developer site: The Civil Right Data Collection (CRDC) APIs: These three APIs give information on public school enrollment in 2013–14, chronic absenteeism in 2013–14, and out-of-school suspension in 2013–14. The College Scorecard API: This is data from the College Scorecard project which allows student and families to “compare college costs and outcomes as they weigh the tradeoffs of different colleges, accounting for their own needs and educational goals.

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Inspiring Data Forum at the Canadian Space Agency

Last [month], NASA Open Innovation Program Manager Dr. Beth Beck and her team traveled to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) near Montreal, Canada to attend the Inspiring Data Forum graciously hosted by our Open Data neighbors to the North. The goal of this gathering was to bolster the working relationship between the two Space Agency’s Open Data efforts and to present techniques NASA is doing in Open Innovation. The event was heavily attended by CSA employees and also had participants from National Research Council of Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat, Natural Resources Canada, Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada, MaxQ and Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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DigitalGov University in Review: 2016 Training Trends

DigitalGov University (DGU), the events platform for DigitalGov, provides programming to build and accelerate digital capacity by providing webinars and in-person events highlighting innovations, case studies, tools, and resources. Thanks to your participation, DGU hosted over 90 events with 6,648 attendees from over 100 agencies across federal, tribal, state, and local governments. DGU strives to provide training throughout the year that is useful and relevant to you. One of the most resounding comments from digital managers last year was people wanted to be able to attend all of our classes virtually.

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New Trademark App Open Source Code on GitHub

Improving the way the government delivers information technology (IT) solutions to its customers isn’t just a goal, it’s our mission. We at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office know that by publishing our open source code, the public can help us come up with new and better IT solutions. In advance of the new Federal Source Code Policy and in support of the Administration’s Open Government Initiative, we have been publishing content on GitHub for over a year, and it now includes source code for a mobile application for trademarks.

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Meeting Patients Where They Are: Liberating Clinical Trials Data Under the Cancer Moonshot

Cancer clinical trials are a critically important step on the pathway for new or improved treatments to make their way to patients in clinics and hospitals in towns and cities across the country. Patients and their loved ones are relying on these rigorous studies to determine whether promising new therapies and approaches might extend how long they live or improve their quality of life. For many years, a steady number of patients with cancer, approximately 5%, have participated in cancer clinical trials.

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New API Brings EPIC Earth Imagery to Developers

Daily imagery data taken by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera is now accessible via a RESTful API available from the NASA API Portal. The Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) is an instrument aboard NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite, which orbits at Earth’s Lagrange point, the sweet spot in space where the gravitational tug of the Earth and the Sun is equal. This allows DSCOVR to maintain a stable position between the Earth and Sun and thus a continuous view of the sunlit side of Earth.

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The Data Briefing: The Census Business Builder—Mashing Up Census Data to Help Build Businesses

The Census Bureau conducts more surveys than just the Constitutionally-mandated Decennial Census. There is also the American Community Survey, the Economic Census, the County Business Patterns series, statistics on Nonemployer businesses, and the Survey of Business Owners and Self-Employed Persons. On their own, each survey is full of useful information for researchers, local and state governments, and entrepreneurs. However, how valuable would the data be if it were mixed and displayed geographically?

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The Data Briefing: I, For One, Welcome Our New Chatbot Blockchain Digital Autonomous Organizations

It is at the intersections of fields where you find the most fascinating and innovative concepts. Recently, a conference on “Open Human Resources and the Cognitive Era” explored the use of chatbots and blockchain technologies in human resources. Human Resources (HR) is quietly undergoing a revolution as many HR practitioners are transforming HR by using open source concepts. It is fascinating to see how cognitive technologies and cloud technologies are changing HR from a transactional and compliance function to an essential strategic organizational asset.

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WCMS and Custom APIs—Which One Is Right for You?

****Gray Brooks of GSA gave us a great definition of APIs in the DigitalGov University (DGU) presentation, Introduction to APIs. He described APIs as “Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, are web services that allow people to more easily consume content and data in multiple ways—via mobile devices, mobile apps, innovative mash-ups, and much more.” Simply put, “APIs are a better way to get government information and services into the hands of the people who need them.

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Open Data Democratizes Innovation

Americans Use Public Data to Improve the Lives of Fellow Citizens Data is one of our most important national assets. It informs our policy and our national priorities. But as we have seen time and time again, the most effective way to govern is to engage with the public directly. Thanks to the President’s Executive Order requiring that agencies make data open, we are democratizing access to data.

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The Data Briefing: Introducing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s New Open Data Portal

My first column when I came back from last year’s summer sabbatical was on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) PatentsView project. PatentsView became one of the Department of Commerce’s most viewed apps in 2015. Building on this success, USPTO released a beta version of its open data portal. The USPTO open data portal is divided into four different sections. The first section leads to patent and trademark datasets.

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An Introduction to Open Data and APIs

The federal workplace is abuzz these days with talk about open data and how agencies can leverage that data through APIs. According to the federal Open Data Policy, data should be managed as an information asset, and making it discoverable and usable (in other words, open). Open data “not only strengthens our democracy and promotes efficiency and effectiveness in government, but also has the potential to create economic opportunity and improve citizens’ quality of life.

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Microsites, They’re Bigger Than You Think

Lately, we have been hearing a lot about microsites—CDC’s Zika Virus microsite provides up-to-date information on the virus—but the big question is: What are they? A microsite is a single or small collections of pages that are meant to encourage user interaction while conveying information. A microsite has the power to educate consumers regarding a specific topic or just highlight a campaign. Microsites are separate from an organization’s full website and are dedicated to serving one purpose—thus eliminating the clutter and distractions that come with a full website.

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The Data Briefing: Chatbots and the Rise of Conversational Commerce and Citizen Experience

Ten months ago, I wrote about the rise of the post-app world in which mobile personal assistants would do the work of five to 10 apps combined. These mobile personal assistants, now known as chatbots, would work through conversational interfaces (voice and instant messaging, for example). The idea is to build more natural interfaces for people to access information services and perform complicated online tasks. Facebook has now joined in the new conversational commerce marketspace along with Google and Apple.

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The Data Briefing: Building an Open Government Data Ecosystem in the Federal Government

It has been over seven years since President Obama signed the executive order that launched the federal open data movement. Much progress has been made, and there is still more to do. Along with the United States, over 100 nations have started programs to provide open access to government data. From large metropolitan governments to small cities, governments are opening up their data to provide better transparency and better delivery of government services.

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Your Trek to Vesta & Mars Starts Now

The NASA Open Innovation team is pleased to announce the availability of the APIs that power Mars Trek and Vesta Trek on api.nasa.gov. The APIs for Mars provide data from the Mars Express, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter missions with 21 different data products such as MOLA Altimetery Hillshade, Viking and THEMIS. There are also 6 data products from the Dawn mission to Vesta providing various views in True Color, Colorized and Color Hillshade to name a few.

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The Data Briefing: An Interview with USAJOBS on New Changes to Their Data Services

The Office of Personnel Management released a new look and functionality to USAJOBS in February. I recently contacted Michelle Earley, the USAJOBS Program Manager, to ask about the changes to USAJOBS and the data it provides. 1. What are the priorities this year for the USAJOBS team and the site? “The priorities for this year include: Unifying the experience Incorporating a comprehensive content strategy to transform the readability of the website Improving the Job Opportunity Announcement (Represents the agency) Improving the User Profile (Represents the job seeker/applicant) Improving Search, which is the mechanism that brings together the job seekers and agencies USAJOBS hopes to continue to act as a trusted public service career platform that creates a responsive and transparent experience for its users.

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The Data Briefing: Three Significant Events in Federal Open Data This Past Week

Three recent stories demonstrate how opening up federal government data and using agile methods to create federal government software can spur innovation while saving tax money and helping the American public. In its Second Open Government National Action Plan (PDF, 639 KB, 5 pages, September 2014), the White House called for a government-wide policy on open source software. Recently, the Office of Management and Budget released a draft policy “to improve the way custom-developed government code is acquired and distributed moving forward.

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The Data Briefing: New Opportunities for American Cities and Communities Thanks to Open Data

Open data and APIs* have not only transformed the federal government; open data and APIs are also transforming tribal, state and local governments. Like federal agencies, some tribal, state and local governments are ahead of other governments in open data innovations. This situation reminds me of my earlier work with the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in the General Services Administration. In 1998, I was a Presidential Management Fellow working on a project to catalog how state and local governments were using websites to deliver government information and services.

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The Data Briefing: Mobile Websites or Mobile Apps or Both?

The increasing sophistication of mobile devices has created many opportunities for developers. Thanks to APIs* and open data, developers can build thousands of mobile apps and mobile websites to meet users’ needs. This opportunity has created one of the most contentious debates in the mobile development community: mobile apps versus mobile websites? There is, yet, no solution to the debate. However, there are some advantages and disadvantages to both types of mobile solutions.

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The Data Briefing: Serving Citizen Developers Inside and Outside of the Federal Government

Citizen developers are people who do not work in information technology (IT) but have built IT applications. Back in the mid-80s, business people would smuggle in personal computers to run their spreadsheets and word processing applications (anyone remember VisiCalc and Bank Street Writer?) instead of having to rely on data processing departments. Today, citizen developers use no-code or low-code services such as IFTTT (If This Then That) or QuickBase to build their business apps.

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Is Your Federal Mobile App or Website in the U.S. Digital Registry?

We have received an amazing response to the U.S. Digital Registry, our new API-generating repository for official third-party sites, social media platforms and mobile apps in the United States federal government. Federal digital managers have already added over 7,300 accounts and are continuously adding and updating social media and mobile app accounts in the registry. Outside of government, private and public sector organizations have been submitting feedback and offering praise.

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The Content Corner: Government as API

Here at DigitalGov, we generally focus on federal governmental digital efforts within the U.S. It is where we live and operate, so it makes sense, but many governments across the world struggle with the same issues and leverage technology as a common solution. When I came across an article where Australia announced its “government as an API” platform was available, it seemed like a great opportunity to see how another country is tackling structured and open content.

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New U.S. Digital Registry Authenticates Official Public Service Accounts

Whether for voter registration, health services or questions about taxes, trusting what and who you engage with online is critical. We’d like to introduce to you a new API-generating repository for official third-party sites, social media platforms and mobile apps in the United States federal government that can help you do that and remove bureaucratic and technological barriers between users and digital public services. It’s called the U.S. Digital Registry, and we hope you’ll join us in using it to develop a new generation of services that:

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The Data Briefing: Using Federal Open Data to Understand How Government Performs

Some highlights from the recent fall conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management: Localities that receive disaster mitigation funds also have more disaster declarations. Longer, more detailed proposed regulations receive fewer challenges to implementing the regulation. Agencies that are better at quantifying their results are safer from budget cuts. The findings above were all based on ready access to open government data. In fact, many more public policy and administration scholars can do more detailed, and innovative research thanks to federal agencies’ release of these datasets.

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The Data Briefing: Design for Developer Experience (DX) and Data Prosumer Experience (DPX)

Recently, DigitalGov devoted an entire month to exploring how good user experience (UX) helps government design better digital products and services. UX is the art and science of understanding how people will use a website or mobile app to solve a problem or meet a need. UX is a combination of neuroscience, communication theory, information architecture, content strategy, graphic design, and responsive programming to build an experience that is inviting and beneficial to users.

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18F Reflects on Their Most Meaningful Projects in 2015

2015 was a big year for 18F. We almost doubled in size, worked with 28 different agency partners, and released products ranging from Design Method Cards to cloud.gov. Internally, we improved onboarding and our documentation by releasing guides on topics as diverse as content, accessibility, and creating good open source projects. To mark the end of the year, we reached out to everyone at 18F and asked them to reflect on a meaningful project they worked on this year.

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The Data Briefing: Does the Federal Government Have an Obligation to Educate Open Data Users?

Pop quiz on statistics and data science (answers at the end of the article): 1) I have some data on accidents at railroad crossings. One variable indicates the compass direction a railroad crossing faces (North, Northwest, Northeast, and so on). This variable is a/an: Ordinal Categorical Directional Interval 2) I have some ordinal data that I want to analyze for trends.

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The Data Briefing: Help #HackSuicide This Weekend

A month ago, I wrote about the White House’s call for data scientists and app developers to come together to help combat suicide. On December 12, 2015, there will be five hackathons around the U.S. to #HackSuicide. All the hackathons are free and open to the public. Even if you are not a data scientist, app developer or mental health expert, you may want to attend one of the events to learn how data can be used to solve a vital public health issue.

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Wherever You Go, There We Are: the Geolocation API

No matter how you go mobile, you can meet your user’s needs. Recommendations based on location are plentiful, particularly on native apps. But don’t fret, agencies with mobile websites: you can also get in the location customization game. Geolocation is a W3C scripting API that can be used with JavaScript in Web browsers. In the past, geolocation could only be done in native apps through a mobile programming API. With the Geolocation API, a mobile web app can request a user’s location.

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The Content Corner: Structured Content and the Power of Syndication

A recent DigitalGov webinar on syndicated content and the recent achievements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped open my eyes even wider to the possibilities of open and structured content. By offering critical health information via syndication, CDC and other Department of Health and Human Services agencies are helping resource-strapped local agencies share critical Web content with very little effort. APIs and Syndication Structured content and APIs form the core of any open content platform, whether it be syndication or other types of data sharing.

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Welcome to BetaFEC: Campaign Finance for Everyone

As the 2016 presidential election heats up, here at 18F we’ve been working with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to make campaign finance data more accessible to the public. Today, we launched betaFEC, the first piece in a complete redesign of the FEC’s online presence. We were excited to work on a project that allowed us to delve into intricate campaign finance data, plain language, and the FEC’s first API.

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The Data Briefing: Create an App for Employees with Disabilities

Have you worked with an employee with a disability? Are you an employee with a disability? Then, you know the unique challenges of the average workplace that able-bodied colleagues may never experience. Workplace challenges could be overcome with accommodations such as larger computer monitor displays, wheelchair-accessible office furniture or a voice reader. In some cases, a mobile app is a solution to a workplace challenge. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

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The Data Briefing: Surrounded by Fields of Federal Data—U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s PatentsView

Hello, everyone. My summer sabbatical was short but educational, and I am glad to be back in the federal government. I am also excited to again take up the weekly API article that is now expanded to include all things federal government data. Much has happened in the open data realm, and there is much to chronicle as government uses data in more innovative ways. On my sabbatical reading stack was “Code Halos: How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations are Changing the Rules of Business.

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Under the Hood: Building a New College Scorecard with Students

Summary: How the U.S. Digital Service worked with students, families, schools, developers and teams across the federal government to rebuild the new College Scorecard tool. My niece is a smart kid. I’m biased, but I swear she is. And just as I started working on the College Scorecard project as the U.S. Digital Service’s new Chief Digital Service Officer at the Department of Education, I got a call from her—she was trying to decide where to go to school.

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Five-Star Customer Experience in Public Service with Yelp

Adding customer satisfaction ratings and reviews to public services just got easier now that Yelp offers a terms of service for official government use. Yelp, a Web and mobile-based user review platform, hosts insights from “real people giving their honest and personal opinions on everything from restaurants and spas to coffee shops.” With the addition of Public Services and Government under the Yelp umbrella, agencies can continue to find new ways to use customer insights to improve citizen services.

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USDA Puts Hunger on Vacation This Summer

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is helping to put hunger on vacation this summer with their Summer Meal Site Finder, a Web and mobile tool that will provide the location of summer meal sites to ensure low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals while school is out. Having this information in a mobile format is key considering that lower income families are more likely to be mobile only.

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An Overview of Digital Communities

Digital communities of practice come in many stripes. DigitalGov communities span eight (and counting) focus areas and have thousands of members, but strong collaborations exist in all corners of government. In honor of this month’s communities theme, we are offering a list of communities that foster connections and strengthen the digital capabilities of federal agencies. Here is a list of some communities working in the digital arena: 18F /Developer Program CIO Council: Accessibility Community of Practice CIO Council: Privacy Community of Practice Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Drupal for Government eCPIC Federal Steering Committee (FESCom) Federal Communicators Network Federal Intranet Content Managers Federal Knowledge Management Community Federal Librarians Ideation Community of Practice Mobile Health (m Health) Training Institutes Training Institutes”) Open Data listserv: Anyone with a .

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Introducing the Federal Election Commission’s First API

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) empowers citizens with the information they need to make informed decisions about their democracy. Since opening its doors in the ‘70s, the FEC has evolved to better serve the public with that information. As the years progressed, records have gone from paper to microfilm and eventually to the web. Today marks the launch of the FEC’s first API. With that API, searching for candidates and committees will be easier and more interactive.

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Safety and Transparency Through Data

You have the right to a safe workplace—and so do the employees at your favorite café, the local hospital and the construction company renovating homes in your neighborhood. But how can you tell if the businesses you patronize are keeping their workers safe? That’s a question we can answer with data. The Data The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s online enforcement database includes details on the roughly 90,000 OSHA inspections conducted every year, and covers more than four decades.

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As the World Churns: Earthquake Detection via Twitter

When one thinks of social media, usually it is thought of as a tool to keep in touch with friends and family. Behind all the social networking lies vast amounts of data that can be used in a multitude of ways. This data is an opportunity for government agencies to improve the services they provide to the public. There are a number of agencies that are using social media data in order to improve services and cut costs.

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The API Briefing: Government APIs in a Post-Apps World

Take out your smartphone and count the number of apps that you have. How many of these apps do you use daily? What about the apps you use weekly? Do you have any apps that you installed but used only once? Any apps that you have never used? What kind of apps do you have? Are most of the apps used to communicate with friends and family? How many gaming apps do you have?

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CitySDK: Helping Civic Hackers Deliver Local Solutions

Civic hackers are a special breed—their primary motivation is closely tied to the social issues closest to their hearts. Most attend hack-a-thons, engage in civic meetups, and show up at city hearings to champion their cause and push solutions at the societal, technology, and policy levels. On the technological front, creating civic city-based solutions has traditionally been unnecessarily difficult. Data issues range from the lack of open data access to the inconsistent interpretation of current data sets to the difficulty of using federal data, such as U.

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The API Briefing: Make It an API – the Census Bureau’s Census of Governments

Serendipity can be a wonderful tool for discovery. I was looking through the Census Bureau site for some business census data when I came upon the 2012 Census of Governments. According to the official description: “[t]he Census of Governments identifies the scope and nature of the nation’s state and local government sector; provides authoritative benchmark figures of public finance and public employment; classifies local government organizations, powers, and activities; and measures federal, state, and local fiscal relationships.

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The API Briefing: NASA Builds API.NASA.gov to Launch More APIs to Developers

NASA has been busy since we last visited their collection of APIs back in August 2014. NASA has just launched API.NASA.gov where developers can learn to use existing NASA APIs or contribute their APIs to the catalog. NASA encourages developers to obtain an API Key to begin using or contributing APIs. Developers do not need an API key, but their requests to the API will be limited. I would encourage developers to obtain an API key.

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The API Briefing: Five Federal APIs for Building a Government Jobs Finder Mobile App

The spring semesters are winding down at the universities where I teach. Many students are looking for summer internships or their first job after graduation. Of course, I talk about the opportunities in government through the Pathways program, the Presidential Management Fellows, or the various agency-specific internship programs. I’ve demonstrated USAJOBS in my classes, but I often wondered how to improve the experience for job seekers, especially for job seekers who prefer to use mobile apps.

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The API Briefing: Be Prepared with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Mobile App

Before coming to DC in late 2008, I lived in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is in the Ohio Valley Region, which meteorologists euphemistically call “weather-rich.” With spring came the beautiful flowers and the Kentucky Derby. Spring also brought flooding, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and windstorms. This is why I had several emergency weather radios that also doubled as flashlights and cell phone chargers. I also have several emergency information apps on my smartphone.

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USA.gov in Beta: Tell Us What You Think

Thirteen years in digital is an eon, and on the eve of its 13th birthday, we at USA.gov found ourselves reckoning with a mid-life crisis. In the thirteen years since Firstgov.gov was launched (and ten years for FirstGov en Español), the sheer volume and sophistication of government websites has exploded. We’ve seen Web customers evolve from timid and curious users to adroit searchers who can download music, read a newspaper, and respond to a text message simultaneously—using only their thumbs.

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What Labor Department Data Do You Want?

Four years ago, we released our Labor Department-wide API—that is, an Application Programming Interface—with the hope that anyone who wants to build an app using our data could do so easily. At the time, we started off with three datasets. Today, we have around 200, including workplace injuries and illnesses, the unemployment rate, companies’ compliance with wage and hour laws, and many other important topics. We hope that the data we publish can help people who have jobs, are looking for jobs or are even retired from their jobs.

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NASA APIs: Opening Data Assets

Data is one of the most important assets at NASA. We have data on comets, measurements of Mars, and real-time imagery of Earth. But what good is data if you can’t access it? Not good at all! We’re in the process of building a site (at api.nasa.gov) to catalog NASA APIs that structure access to our data, making it eminently easy for developers to build applications. An application, here, is broadly defined and includes research applications, mobile applications, policy applications—any data use that converts information into insight and action.

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The API Briefing: How Essential Is Government Data to the American Economy?

I grew up when home computers were first being introduced to the general public. I bought my first computer, a Commodore 64, after spending a summer of mowing lawns and saving up my birthday and Christmas money. It was not until I entered college that I became an infopreneur. Infopreneurs are entrepreneurs who used computers and data sources to provide information products and services. My specialty was compiling information from the university’s collection of CD-ROMs that they received from various government agencies.

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The Content Corner: Structured Content Challenges and Lessons Learned

In May 2014, Sarah Crane discussed the importance of structured content, APIs and the development of a “Create Once, Publish Everywhere” (COPE) strategy at USA.gov via a three part video series. After my recent post about a world without Web pages, Sarah and I connected and we discussed the challenges she has experienced during the COPE project at USA.gov and some lessons to consider whether you’re at the beginning or early stages of a similar project.

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The API Briefing: How Do I Use This API? Good Documentation Practices from Department of Labor

When I first started coding using BASIC on the Commodore 64, I rarely documented my programs. Neither did many of my fellow programmers which led to numerous hours trying to figure out just exactly how a program worked. Documentation became more vital as programs became more feature rich and complex. In the API world, there are a number of documentation standards to choose from when documenting an API.

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On the Spot: Must-Have IFTTT Recipes for Government

Ever since we announced IFTTT was available for federal use, dozens of ideas have been shared for how program managers can use the tool to increase their productivity. I asked some API enthusiasts in the SocialGov community which of their favorite recipes were must-haves for all digital teams or for those new to the platform. First, for those not familiar with it, IFTTT (as in “If This Then That”) combines 166 channels like Twitter, Android and iOS Location, and RSS into “recipes” that can integrate government social media, data, location-based services, and the Internet of Things.

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Empowerment, Innovation, and Improved Health Outcomes: the Blue Button Initiative

Finding and getting access to our own health information can be a complex process. And most of us don’t really think about having our health information readily accessible until we really need it – like in the event of an emergency, or when switching doctors or traveling. Combing through stacks of paperwork and contacting providers is daunting for even the most organized among us. However, this familiar scenario is being reimagined.

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The API Briefing: Free Federal Energy and Economic Information Delivered Straight to Your Spreadsheet

Back in November 2014, I wrote about the Federal Reserve of St. Louis’ FRED® (Federal Reserve Economic Data) API. A user can access 238,000 economic trends through FRED® through a website and mobile apps. What is unique about FRED® is that a user can pull economic data directly into an Excel spreadsheet. Now, the FRED® Excel plugin is joined by the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Excel plugin. The tool, which launched on March 18, incorporates both energy data from the EIA API and economic data from FRED®.

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The API Briefing: Introduction to Web Components

Instead of writing about a specific federal API this week, I want to talk about a new, evolving way of building Web interfaces and complete applications. Web Components allow developers to create their element that extends the HTML5 set of tags. Developers can create a Web Component that is a button that performs a specific function, such as composing and sending an email. Alternatively, a Web Component can be a complete application that a developer can easily drop into a Web page or mobile app.

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Why Your APIs Need Design Help

Anything built should be built right. It doesn’t matter if it’s built of wood, carbon nanotubes or code. So it’s encouraging that the practice of User-Centered Design—getting customer feedback at every stage of a project—is catching on with APIs as well. When we think APIs, we mostly think of developers and not designers. But the experience of those who want to use your APIs isn’t just dependant of the strength and elegance of your API.

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The API Briefing: Fulfilling the D(e)SIRE for Renewable Energy with the Department of Energy’s New API

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency® (DSIRE®) provides information on incentives and policies for renewables and energy efficiency in the U.S. This joint project by the Department of Energy and North Carolina State University just released an API to query DSIRE®’s database. Developers can view the sample output by visiting the database query page. They can query by state or ZIP code to receive a listing of programs.

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Data, Code, and API Event Round Up

DigitalGov University has hosted some great events over the last year in partnership with Data.gov, the MobileGov Community and 18F to bring you information on opening data and building APIs. This month we’ve rounded up the events over the past year so that you can see what’s been offered. Use the comments below to offer up suggestions on what else you’d like to see on the schedule.

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DigitalGov Monthly Theme: How Data and Code Improve Government Services

Data and code are the foundation, building blocks, and cornerstone of government digital services. They are the keys that open the door to a better digital government future and are fundamental in making government more open. No matter who you are or where you work in the federal space, data and code enable your projects to meet real needs. This month we’re featuring articles around the theme of data and code.

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The API Briefing: Practicing Safe App Development with Secure Federal APIs

When browsing the various APIs offered by the federal government, you may have noticed that developers need to sign up for an API key. You may have also noticed that the documentation tells app developers to access the API using specified methods. Along with these two requirements, federal API creators have several ways to provide secure APIs for app developers and the general public. In this posting, I will describe how federal APIs are kept secure.

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The API Briefing: Harvesting the USDA’s Rich Bounty of Open Data Sets for APIs

APIs and apps have been created for almost every aspect of human life. There are alarm clock apps, fitness apps, cooking apps, and personal finance apps, just to name a few of the thousands of apps available today. Most areas of society are well-represented in the app world except for one large portion of the American public—rural America. There need to be more apps for rural America. Fortunately, the U.

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The API Briefing: Building Apps with APIs Using If This Then That

In my last posting, I argued that federal agencies should consider microservices architecture when releasing APIs. This is because allowing users to combine single-purpose apps together in unique ways helps people build personalized apps such as a driving map to local farmers markets. When given the opportunity, users will surprise you with the innovative creations they build from combining APIs. Just last week, the popular If This Then That (IFTTT) service released a federal-friendly Terms of Service.

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IFTTT Combines Social Media, Mobile and Internet of Things for Government

The newest addition to the federal government’s social media utility belt may also be one of its most powerful, as IFTTT (as in “If This Then That”) combines 166 channels like Twitter, Android and iOS Location and RSS into “recipes” that can integrate government social media, data, location-based services and the Internet of Things. The service, now one of nearly 80 social media platforms with federal-friendly Terms of Service, will both empower federal managers to operate more effectively and open its Developer platform to fuel everything from open archives to wearable devices with government APIs.

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The API Briefing: Two API Trends to Watch in 2015 – Microservices and Containers

DigitalGov recently spotlighted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) new SaferRide app. SaferRide provides safe alternatives to keep drunken drivers off the road. SaferRide uses the Yelp API to provide information about local taxi services for the part of the app where users can request a ride home. The SaferRide app is one example of how APIs can be mashed together to produce sophisticated applications. As APIs become more prevalent, there are two trends in app development that federal app developers should watch.

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Training Trends in 2014

In recent years, DigitalGov University (DGU) has evolved from a prescriptive training program to a more agile program looking to federal government leaders like you to share the innovations, tools, resources, hurdles and case studies of how you work to meet the digital expectations of the 21st century citizen customer better. Whew. That’s a mouthful. Thanks to all the participation from you, across many agencies, we’ve hosted over 100 events this past year with over 8,000 attendees.

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The Future Will Be Printed – in 3D

The use of 3D printing is growing. From kayaks to pancakes to human and canine prosthetics, a diverse array of 3D printed products have been delivered. 3D printing has also been named one of the top technology trends in 2015 that organizations should incorporate into their strategic planning. In the federal space, 3D printing is evolving. Winners of the White House 3D ornament contest were announced last month. In January, we’re highlighting projects that show how 3D printing can support diverse federal initiatives, from scientific research to space exploration.

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Trends on Tuesday: The Hottest DigitalGov Mobile Articles in 2014

QR codes, apps about whales, bullying and railroad crossings, challenges of responsive Web design and mobilizing charts and tables were the things you were most interested in this year. We publish mobile trends every Tuesday and feature a government mobile app every Thursday on the mobile channel of DigitalGov. In addition, we do recaps of MobileGov Community of Practice events and other community articles in between. This year we published 281 articles.

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Santa Is 16 Centuries Old: Things I’ve Learned from NORAD Tracks Santa App

NORAD’s Santa Tracker is available for download again! Here are five things I learned from the magical NORAD Tracks Santa app to keep my nieces, nephews and neighborhood children entertained this holiday season, even if I don’t remember how many of them I should buy presents for: Santa’s big night out usually starts in the South Pacific, covers New Zealand and Australia, shoots up to Japan, over to Asia, across to Africa, then onto Western Europe, Canada, the U.

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Acronyms, Army-isms and Much More: ROTC Handbook App Explains Cadet Life

Have a potential future cadet in the family? Deciding whether the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program is right for you? Already in the program? Study up on the Army ROTC program before you or someone you know steps foot in the classroom in a crisp uniform. Download the ROTC Handbook from the U.S. Army Cadet Command to help learn this new culture—acronyms, Army-isms and all. This app serves a wide audience, including those who are looking to join the program, current cadets and anyone who is interested in cadet life.

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Can You Crowdsource Your User Experience Research?

In one sense, almost any type of user research is crowdsourced—you’re talking to people and using that information to improve your system. But in a true sense, crowdsourcing is more than just collecting information, it’s collaborating on it. We want to have real conversations, not one-time emailed suggestions without followups. So here’s a few tidbits on crowdsourcing User Experience (UX) for your site, mobile app, API or whatever else you’ve got cooking:

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Avoid an Awkward Family Thanksgiving with the Federal Apps Mobile Directory

Are you like me? Do you consistently eat too much on Thanksgiving to avoid invasive family conversations that have a high probability of 1) turning awkward and 2) forcing you to abandon a sworn blood oath to never again reveal details of your private life to loved ones? Don’t be like me. It’s your holiday, too, and there’s no need to sit quietly at the table with a full belly and sweating.

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The API Briefing: FRED® and ALFRED® Serve Up a Buffet of Economic Data

The federal government captures almost every economic data trend through several agencies. The Federal Reserve of St. Louis offers 238,000 economic trends through FRED® (Federal Reserve Economic Data). FRED® data can be accessed through the FRED® website or the FRED® mobile app (Android | Apple). FRED® data can even be pulled into Excel through a free plugin. Developers can take advantage of the vast data resources of FRED® and its cousin, ALFRED® (ArchivaL Federal Reserve Economic Data).

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The API Briefing: EPA’s Water Quality Portal API Merges Three Data Streams

Access to clean water is fast becoming a vital issue in the 21st century. Changing climate patterns are drying up aquifers and limiting the amount of water runoff from thawing snow packs. Drought conditions in California are effecting hydroelectric production while dry conditions in the West have increased the frequency and harmful effects of forest fire. Monitoring and mapping water conditions across the U.S. is a vital government service.

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The API Briefing: CDC’s API Delivers Free Up-To-Date Health Information for Your Blog or Website

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.

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The Federal Register: Improving Visitors’ Search Experience on Agency Websites

The Office of the Federal Register’s mission “informs citizens of their rights and obligations, documents the actions of Federal agencies, and provides a forum for public participation in the democratic process.” As the winner of the Bright Idea Award, FederalRegister.gov is clear and easy to use, but most citizens rarely frequent it. More frequently they start searching for information on Google or on agency websites, where it is more difficult to discover pertinent rules and regulations.

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Census Promotes Mobile Apps Front and Center!

Those cutting edge folks over at Census have raised the bar again! Not only do they have three mobile apps that use their own APIs, but now everyone who visits Census.gov is presented with an overlay promoting America’s Economy, Census PoPQuiz, and dwellr. Clicking on the overlay takes you straight to their mobile products page. Overlay advertising is just one way to promote your mobile products. Your public affairs office is key to ensure you promote to social media and other channels that will alert your users and relevant communities.

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The API Briefing: Finding Help for the Elderly – The ElderCare Locator API

If you have ever been a caregiver for an elderly family member or friend, you know that there are many resources to help you in giving care. But finding these resources can be difficult and frustrating. The Administration on Aging in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been guiding people to local resources since 1991. Starting with a phone service, the Administration on Aging created its first website in 2001.

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Open Source Content Management Systems and Responsive Web Design Webinar Recap

Most of us in the DigitalGov community recognize that responsive Web design is one approach to mobile first and most of us have a pretty clear picture of what it means—a responsive website will adjust to different devices, and the content will neatly change its layout from one screen size to another. But do you know how it happens? Would you know how to implement responsive Web design in your agency?

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API Usability Case Study: openFDA

Last March, the openFDA team shared their still-in-progress API to potential users as part of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)’s API Usability Program. FDA created openFDA to allow researchers and developers to search their vast trove of public data, including information about adverse events (reports of undesirable experiences associated with the use of a medical product in a patient) submitted to the agency. The API Usability Program brings together developers from agency APIs and the private sector to evaluate how the API can be improved to be more user friendly.

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How to Find Your Open Data Hotshots

How can you find the top 5 users of your open data? We were recently asked this question on the Open Data listserv, and while this information can be a good measure of success for open data programs, we also figured some of the answers shared would be of interest to the broader community. This blog post seeks to summarize and clarify those answers. What Defines a Top Third-Party Developer?

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Top 5 Reasons to Use Government-wide Open and Structured Content Models

Content models provide an opportunity for agencies to structure, organize, distribute, and better publish information in multiple forms and on multiple platforms. Federal agencies discussed why content models are important for future-facing content in our What Structured Content Models Can Do For You Webinars in May and June. The point—with good content models, a single piece of Web content becomes an adaptive information asset that can be leveraged anytime, anywhere.

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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 ED.gov to find 36 educational datasets for educational levels. The datasets can be accessed in CSV, JSON, XML, and API formats. What is especially helpful is a PDF document that explains the data and the methodology behind the data collection. This is useful information for app developers when they combine datasets.

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The Minimum Viable Building Blocks For a Federal Government API Hub

My name is Kin Lane, I am the API Evangelist, and a round two Presidential Innovation Fellow. I spend each day looking through the developer portals and hubs for API across the private sector. Recently I’ve also spent time looking at 77 federal government API developer portals and 190 APIs, and after all this review of some successful, and some not so successful APIs, you start to get an idea for what the minimum viable building blocks for an API hub in federal government should be.

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The API Briefing: Writable APIs – The Federal Register.gov Commenting Feature

Up till now, all the APIs that have been written about in The API Briefing were read-only APIs. That means that information is only one way: from the API to the user or app. These APIs do allow limited interactivity in that the database behind the API can be searched, but the existing data cannot be edited, or new data added to the database. There are some federal government APIs that are writable.

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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 relevant datasets and keep up with newly-added datasets, the HealthData.gov API was created. Developers can use the Catalog API to search the catalog and receive meta-information about a dataset in the JSON format.

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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. Community activists have also worked to create food co-ops and encourage farmer markets to target the food deserts.

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Working with APIs for Non-Coders Recap

In a recent event titled: “Intro to APIs: Working with URLs, JSON, APIs, and Open Data—Without Writing Any Code,” federal practitioners and supporters interested in open data attended an in-person workshop, led by Eric Mill, a key developer on GSA’s 18f team. This event was especially targeted to non-developers and explored the basics of APIs, using the Congress API, offered by the Sunlight Foundation, as an example. The purpose of the event was to showcase that anybody of any skill level can understand and use APIs without any coding knowledge!

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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 uses a standard way to describe and index government information sources. The discovery service makes it easier for developers to find and mix different APIs together to create sophisticated apps.

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Agency Dataset Publication in Data.gov

Not sure how to get your datasets into Data.gov? We’ve put together an overview to show you how the process works. Agencies prepare their enterprise data inventories in data.json format and post them on their websites (agency.gov/data.json), pursuant to the Open Data Policy and following the guidance and using the tools available on Project Open Data. Data.gov also offers a tool called inventory.data.gov that can be used to assist agencies in creating their data inventories.

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What Structured Content Can Do For You: Webinar Recap

Structured content and open content models can help you create content that is platform-agnostic, format-free, and device-independent. This was the theme of the “What Structured Content Can Do For You: Article Model” webinar last month. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG25vyQ5Jps&w=600] Using a content model is less about how you are crafting your message and more about how the internet is going to react to your content or how you can manipulate it, according to Holly Irving from the National Institutes of Health, Russell O’Neill from the General Services Administration, and Logan Powell from U.

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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 yourself by using the National Archives and Records Administration’s interactive documentation to the Federal Register API.

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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 to pharmacists, doctors, and the ordinary health consumer. The problem is that data is hard for developers to access and process. Until recently, when the National Library of Medicine released open source code for “Pillbox.

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Video Blog: Part 3: Sarah Crane, USA.gov

In our final video interview with Sarah Crane of USA.gov, she talks about adaptive content and how it works with APIs. Missed Part 1 and Part 2? Watch them to find out how USA.gov dealt with their inconsistent customer experience and content sprawl. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giK-RsHjA4c&w=600] Interested in learning more about adaptive content and content modeling? Check out the new Structured Content Models and the training on Event Model Creation. We’ve created an editorial theme calendar to coordinate content each month around one focus.

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Data Innovaton with Census at #HackForChange

Do you want to build an application, product or business that uses Census Bureau data? There are opportunities to give feedback and get involved. Two years ago, the Census Bureau launched its application programming interface (API), giving developers access to a variety of high value data sets, including our flagship 2010 Census and American Community Survey five-year estimates. These estimates provide statistics for every neighborhood in the nation, allowing developers to create new tools to help better understand their communities and solve real world issues.

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Ignite with Us

Have a DigitalGov success?—published an API? Got buy-in from leadership? Changed a part of your customer-service paradigm? Developed a cool dashboard? Got the app out the door? Heck! Have you prototyped a wearable, drivable or flyable? Have a DigitalGov opinion?—think we should be focusing more or less on something? Have an idea on how to improve development? Want to share your digital gov mantra? Internet of things? You are doing and thinking a lot, and we have a place for a few of you smarties to share with other agencies.

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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 each other about what training a learner has completed. Compiling a training record is a tedious and mostly manual process of printing out certificates, filling out SF-182s, and keeping paper records.

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Packaging Up API Usability Testing for Agency Reuse

Over the past year, a GSA collaboration has seen a project that offers API Usability Testing to federal agencies go from the pilot stage to a regular, robust series. Already, 13 agencies and programs have participated, and several more participate with every monthly session that passes. The best examples from across the government have made clear that one of the most important tasks of API producers is to regularly engage their developer community and listen to what they have to say.

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Video Blog: Part 2: Sarah Crane, USA.gov

Part 2 of our interview with Sarah Crane from USA.gov shares how the USA.gov team is tackling content sprawl with the USA.gov API. Missed Part 1 last week? You’ll want to watch it before next Tuesday, when we will publish Part 3 where Sarah talks about adaptive content. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtXsAIoRqb4&w=600]

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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 communities. Realizing the importance of farmers markets, the USDA released the Farmers Market Directory API so that developers can create apps to help people find farmers markets in their area.

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Video Blog: Sarah Crane, USA.gov

Next in our video blog series, Sarah Crane from USA.gov shares how multiple product lines have led to an inconsistent customer experience and how new functional teams are helping them become more efficient. And check back next Monday to hear how the team is tackling content sprawl with the USA.gov API. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lObSjX82aBg&w=600]

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Make Gov APIs Better with User Experience

APIs and User Experience go together like gummi bears and ice cream. An API is a product just like a car, a website or a ballpoint pen. It’s designed to help someone do something. Products are either designed well—they meet expectations and deliver value—or they are designed poorly and create frustration and confusion. Inevitably, bad products are abandoned without a thought, like an old T-shirt with holes in it.

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Because It’s Hard

Two years ago, federal agencies were set on a fast track to create a 21st century digital government. The Federal Digital Strategy served up a heaping set of deliverables on a tight timeline. Agencies opened data sets, built mobile apps and websites, published APIs, created and updated digital governance structures, and joined with other agencies in measuring digital services performance. Last May, as the final deadlines were met, some asked, “What’s next?

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Government Social Media Isn’t Lagging, It’s Different: And That’s Good

Social Media tools, trends and algorithms come and go, but federal managers continue to see improvements in their digital engagement initiatives when they put citizens at the center of their programs. It’s common to hear that government social media lags behind the private sector especially when held to standards that don’t consider government’s unique needs and goals. Yet, even as marketers call for exit strategies from some platforms, many of our agencies see an increase in their performance even without paid promotions because of effective engagement strategies.

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GSA Introduces News Genius to Decode Government Web

The federal government can now unlock the collaborative “genius” of citizens and communities to make public services easier to access and understand with a new free social media platform launched by GSA today at the Federal #SocialGov Summit on Entrepreneurship and Small Business. News Genius, an annotation wiki based on Rap Genius now featuring federal-friendly Terms of Service, allows users to enhance policies, regulations and other documents with in-depth explanations, background information and paths to more resources.

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DigitalGov Search: Our Open Source Strategy

At DigitalGov Search, we keep an eye on on our what our government counterparts are up to, both in the U.S. and other countries. We recently came across Gov.UK’s philosophy on and approach to coding in the open. It caught our attention and we realized we should also articulate our open source strategy. Use and Contribute to Open Source Projects Since 2010, we’ve embraced and leveraged open source software to build our site search service for federal, state, and local government websites.

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Introducing openFDA

Welcome to the new home of openFDA! We are incredibly excited to see so much interest in our work and hope that this site can be a valuable resource to those wishing to use public FDA data in both the public and private sector to spur innovation, further regulatory or scientific missions, educate the public, and save lives. Through openFDA, developers and researchers will have easy access to high-value FDA public data through RESTful APIs and structured file downloads.

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New Go.USA.gov Features: Search Your URLs, Add Notes, New Bookmarklet, and More

You can now log in to Go.USA.gov with your username or email address, one of the new improvements added to the government URL shortener. Previously you could only log in with your username. You can now: Log in with your username or email address Search your short URLs Add notes to short URLs Shorten URLs from your browser with the bookmarklet Download improved CSV exports Use the API to get all short URLs from your account Learn about the new features, other minor changes, and known issues.

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Welcome to the Future of Census.gov

If you have ever visited census.gov, you know that sorting through the vast array of information about America’s people, places and economy can be daunting. Based on customer research and feedback we collected and analyzed over time, we heard loud and clear that both search and navigation of our site could be much better. Visitors to census.gov should not have to work so hard to find the information and statistics they are looking for to complete their research, personal projects or business needs.

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Alternative Fueling Station Locator App from the Department of Energy

So: You decided to purchase a car that takes advantage of more environmentally friendly fuel. Congratulations! Now, you need to find a place to fill the tank that offers more than just regular gas. The new Alternative Fueling Station Locator app from the folks at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is a must-try. The new iPhone app will find and map the 20 closest stations within 30 miles of your location that sell alternative fuels such as natural gas, biodiesel, E85 ethanol, propane and hydrogen.

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U.S. Census Bureau Dwellr App

The pursuit of happiness for many of us might mean a fresh new start and a new place to call home. But where? In such a large and diverse country as ours, the choices can seem endless — and overwhelming. Now, your data friendly U.S. Census Bureau has harnessed the power of its vast trove of demographic, neighborhood-specific and housing information into a new smartphone app on both Google Play and iOS called, aptly, dwellr.

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Trends on Tuesday: The State of Mobile Search

Mobile searching has become a fact of life. According to a recent study by Econsultancy, 67% of smartphone owners had used their device to search for information in the past 7 days. The infographic below describes what they are searching for–the majority of searches are for arts, events and news. Last year Google predicted that mobile search will overtake the desktop search over the next few years as tablet and smartphone growth continue to surge, doubling every 2 years.

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API Security

Like website development, API security revolves around three stages—planning the API, testing the API, and monitoring the API after it has launched. The planning stage requires those involved to conceptually map several design decisions and the impact that they will have on security. The second stage applies your agency’s security program to the API release candidate. Lastly, the third step integrates your API in your agency’s continuous monitoring frameworks.

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Chief Digital Officer: Roles and Responsibilities

In my previous blog post, I asked if your agency needs a Chief Digital Officer and before you answer maybe you’d want to know what exactly would a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) do at your Agency? According to Tim Bourgeois of ChiefDigitalOfficer.net , the biggest asset a CDO brings “is the ability … to make something a priority where, under the existing structure, it is tough to make it a priority.

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Does Your Agency Need A Chief Digital Officer?

Russell Reynolds Associates, the senior-level executive search firm, says that the last 2 years have seen the rise of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO), a senior executive who sits at the right hand of the CEO. According to the consulting firm Gartner, 25% of organizations will have a Chief Digital Officer by 2015. Large organizations such as Forbes, CVS, Harvard University, NBC News, Amnesty International USA, and Starbucks have hired CDOs recently.

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Make Mobile Gov with the Mobile Application Development Program

Anytime, 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.

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/Developer Kit

These are the elements that make up a well-rounded developer hub. Homepage The API efforts of any agency should all be accessible via one easy to reach developers hub. This Web page should provide a path to all public APIs and any associated resources. Once an agency has begun to publish multiple APIs, certain resources may make sense to be specific to each API whereas others may make sense to be provided more generally for all of the agency’s APIs.

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API Release Kit

These are the elements you should include in your federal API release. Homepage Each of your public APIs needs a page to serve as a hub to provide access to all information and tools associated with it. By using the page’s sidebar, footer, and sub pages, you can directly include or link to each of the following components that exist for the API. This allows for ready discovery of anything a potential developer may need, minimizing the effort that is asked of them and maximizing the adoption.

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New Healthcare.gov is Open, CMS-Free

Recently HHS CTO Bryan Sivak outlined a new vision for healthcare.gov. The site will relaunch this June with a completely rethought design and architecture. The new healthcare.gov follows a new CMS-free philosophy. It will be a completely static website, generated by Jekyll. This shift will allow HHS to move away from the use of a content management system for managing Heathcare.gov. Website generators like Jekyll work by combining template files with content and rendering them to static html pages.

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APIs in Government

What Are APIs? An Application Programming Interface, or API, is a set of software instructions and standards that allows machine to machine communication—like when a website uses a widget to share a link on Twitter or Facebook. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVeiRCEwJx8] [Extended Version] When we talk about APIs we are referring to Web services or Web APIs. This aligns with the current trends to use Web APIs to support sharing content and data between communities and applications.

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Producing APIs through Data.gov

One way agencies can offer APIs for their data is to use the built–in functionality of Data.gov. The information that is hosted as interactive datasets have an API layer which agencies can make available through documentation in the developer’s section of the agency’s website. The guide below will help you do this. Process Upload a dataset as an interactive dataset in Data.gov. A. Your agency should have a Data.

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Usability Testing + Gov APIs = Best

Good APIs can transform intimidating data sets into something that people can use. Good government APIs can create a better connection between government and citizens. The Digital Government Strategy has spurred Federal adoption of APIs, and the Digital Services Innovation Center and DATA.GOV teams are supporting these efforts by releasing a swath of guidance and resources, hosting online education series and launching a number of hosted tools at Labs.Data.gov.

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API Analytics

Similar to website analytics, API analytics focus on reliably reporting the metrics which are most useful to its stakeholders. There are a many ways of collecting, reporting, and consuming API analytics but all revolve around the industry–accepted norm that some form of analytics are crucial to any API program. The most basic metrics will track the number of API registrations and the number of API requests, but as important as understanding how much an API is used is understanding how it is used.

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API Design and Documentation

Design At their core, developers want APIs for very straightforward, pragmatic ends. You should always design your APIs and document them with the goal of making it easier for developers to use them. Doing so results in greater adoption and a healthier, more successful API. The least efficient way to support developers would be to work with each interested developer individually on any question or problem that they have.

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How to Make APIs—An Overview

After choosing a set of information or services to offer via API, some of your next steps are to plan and implement the API. You’ll still need to prepare documentation, tools, and other elements that make a complete package for the API, but at the center is the actual Web service itself. In many situations, existing IT resources or the current system operators handle this step. There are several options at this stage, each with advantages and disadvantages.

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Resources and Tools for APIs

Hosted API Tools Labs.Data.gov is a repository of shared services to prototype and provide developer resources to government agencies. Each tool uses Web services and lightweight, open source code to provide powerful functionality. Agencies are encouraged to improve any project and submit pull requests in order to share the improvements with others. API Standards Template With the open source release of the White House’s API Standards template, agencies have a complete model for API design and best practices that includes the best practices and agreed–upon norms of the developer community.

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How to Get Started with APIs

Audit Research existing APIs Regardless of your agency’s level of progress in API production, your first step is to create a developer hub that links to any of your agency’s existing APIs. This can help identify current efforts and connect you with others in your agency already working on APIs. Follow up with a deeper scan for APIs that your agency may already be publishing:

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API Basics

Common Technical Choices Protocol API protocol is the set of rules that govern how an API functions. The protocol outlines the structure and definitions of the API. The two common forms are REST and SOAP. REST is the dominant choice for API protocol because it uses the http protocol that powers the Web. REST supports more data formats, requires much simpler documentation, has better performance, can be cached, and is faster to use.

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Benefits of APIs

Understanding the benefits of API production allows you to coordinate with system owners and other stakeholders to modernize the agency’s systems and unlock the sizable potential. Here are just some of these opportunities. Efficiency Providing API access allows for content to be created once and automatically published or made available to many channels. Your agency’s content is ready for easy sharing and redistribution to deliver your mission directly to more citizens.

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Mobile Gov Resources for 2013!

With mobile use growing exponentially and federal agencies implementing customer-facing mobile services for the Digital Government Strategy, we decided to put together a Mobile Gov resource “cheat sheet” with concepts and information we think will be helpful for agencies implementing Mobile Gov in 2013. Here’s what Mobile Gov implementers need to know! APIs Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have been called the “secret sauce” for digital services. They help open information (content and data) so it can be reused inside and outside of government.

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Analytics, APIs and Open Content Resources

Agencies have been working away at building better digital services and here, at the Digital Services Innovation Center, we’ve been building resources to help. We have been focusing on three areas, The Digital Analytics Program. We announced this program in early October to help agencies better measure performance and customer satisfaction to improve service delivery. It includes digital metrics guidance and best practices, training and a federal-wide Web analytics tool and support.

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Case Study: How GSA Launched Social Media Registry

In September, the General Services Administration (GSA) launched a registry of all federally-managed social media accounts. We want to explain a little of the history behind the registry and talk about a few things that make it a truly remarkable innovation from GSA. Before I start, I want to emphasize when I say “we” from here on, I’m referring to the entire team at GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) that made this happen.

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Centers for Disease Control Content Syndication

_ Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention._ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses content syndication to share important health information with a variety of federal public health agencies, state and local public health departments, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and commercial organizations. Why We Did It CDC developed content syndication to give our public health partners and other interested parties the tools to deliver credible content directly to their visitors.

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Mobile First Webinar Recap

Federal agency mobile implementation is an important aspect of the Digital Government Strategy, so last week the Mobile Gov team and Digital Gov University partnered for a “Mobile First” Webinar. A “mobile first” approach is where new websites and applications are designed for mobile devices first, instead of designed for the traditional desktop. Representatives from government and the private sector spoke about what it means to be “mobile first.” You can view the entire webinar below, but here are some highlights:

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Introduction to APIs

There’s an easier way to get content and data into the hands of citizens. Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, are web services that allow people to more easily consume content and data in multiple ways–via mobile devices, mobile apps, innovative mash-ups, and much more. Simply put, “APIs are a better way to get government information and services into the hands of the people who need them.” To help agencies better understand APIs, DigitalGov University hosted a webinar, An Introduction to APIs, with experts from NASA and CDC.

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Healthfinder.gov API

_ Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by Healthfinder.gov_. The actual healthfinder.gov site was launched approximately twelve years ago, while the API is a fairly recent development that has occurred in the past year and a half. Why We Did It The reason to go with an API rather than an app or another any other format was in large part due to the type of information we were providing to our audience.

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Social Data Unlocked for Next Generation Services

Today at the#SocialGov Summit for Social Media Week DC, we’ll showcase two new initiatives for citizens, agencies and small businesses that help unlock the full potential of social data for the next generation of government services and engagement. Leading innovators in government will also be on hand to show how social data is empowering them to improve federal programs. The first initiative is the release of new baseline social media metrics for federal agencies “Social Media Metrics for Federal Agencies”), developed by the Federal Social Media Community of Practice.

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