Today in APIs: OpenGov's Open Data API Tips

Greg Bates
May. 13 2014, 12:15AM EDT

The Obama Administration's open data policy is one year old. MIT uses the Google Maps API to map bike crashes in New York. Plus: Bitly hacked, and Apigee Smartdocs' method-level API documentation.

The Obama Administration's Open Data Policy Complete's First Year

Last year, the Obama Administration inaugurated an open data policy. Now it offers a list of 5 tips for APIs:

  • Developers want to start using the API immediately
  • Interactive documentation is the norm
  • don’t speak government
  • Keep listening to your users
  • Keep iterating

As Rebecca Carroll points out in NextGov, the Obama Administration is looking to make government data more accessible:

The Obama administration has argued that properly formatted government data fuels private sector innovation and economic growth. Nextgov has been tracking this phenomenon in a special report called Government Data Unbound, which notes that much machine-readable government data would be a lot more useful if it was better formatted.

Open government and data access conjure up images of transparency, but that isn't the primary motivator here. Rather, data that is freely accessible can also fuel entrepreneurship, science, economic growth and innovation.

The You Are Here Project Puts New York Bike Crashes on the Map

Since August of 2011, New Yorkers have reported thousands of bike crashes to police, including over 3,700 in Brooklyn, 2,600 in Manhattan. Now, an MIT group called the You Are Here Project has used an API to plot the crashes.

  As John Metcalfe reports in The Atlantic Cities, the maps offer a peek at the world of cycling pain in the big apple:

The team took collision data provided by the NYPD and geolocated it with Google Maps API to make a series of interactive maps, using orange dots to show where collisions have happened and red lines to denote roads with large clusters of wrecks. The time frame is August 2011 to February 2014, a sufficient enough period to establish a historical web of skidding tires and bodies hitting metal that stretches all across the five boroughs. The MIT guys say they created these "in the hope that those streets might be made safer for riders." (Note that they include only crashes involving physical harm, and that not everyone reports their scrape-ups to the police.)

The Bronx and Staten Island are safer, but that may be deceiving: they have fewer crashes, but presumably fewer bikers as well.

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Greg Bates A writer for Programmableweb since 2012, Greg is a freelance writer and a maniacal editor of dissertations and term papers. - Follow me on Google+

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