We the People is a platform on the White House website that allows users to create and sign petitions on any number of issues. Petitions that recieve more that 150 signatures get reviewed by the White House staff and are responded to. The platform has supported over 8 million users, more than 200,000 petitions and more than 13 million signatures. The API provides users with GET HTTP access to data on all petitions that have gathered enough support to have received a response and become publicly-available on the We the People site. The platform recently updated the API by adding a POST component that now allows developers to gather signatures from independent systems and submit them to petitions. Write-API requests require an API key for use.
It may not have been the zombie apocalypse, but the recent government shutdown stopped the flow of open data via APIs and raised questions about how API developers and API providers can best handle a crisis in future. Now, 21 days later, we examine the impact and fallout of the shutdown, and look at how a similar situation could be avoided in both the US and anywhere that developers are making use of government open data in their API workflows.
The United States’ White House has developed a set of API standards they are hoping will be used across all government agencies. The standards were developed following a number of API releases, including the White House’s We The People API that allows citizen petition collection and lodgement. The new API standards document naming conventions, minimum requirements, and best practices for RESTful interfaces, while also acknowledging the importance of offering a “positive developer experience” through their API releases.