Last year, the Executive Branch of the US government made huge strides in opening up government controlled data to the developer community. Projects such as the Open Data Policy and the Machine Readable Executive Order have led the US government to develop an API strategy. Today, ProgrammableWeb takes a look at another open government API: the Annual Production Figures of United States Currency API.
The US Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) provides the dataset available through the Production Figures API. The data available consists of the number of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 notes printed each year from 1980 to 2012. With this straightforward, seemingly basic set of data available, the question becomes: "Why is this data useful"? To answer this, one should consider the purpose of the Executive Order:
"Openness in government strengthens our democracy, promotes the delivery of efficient and effective services to the public, and contributes to economic growth. As one vital benefit of open government, making information resources easy to find, accessible, and usable can fuel entrepreneurship, innovation, and scientific discovery that improves Americans' lives and contributes significantly to job creation."
The API uses HTTP and can return requests in XML, JSON, or CSV data formats. As stated, the API retrieves the number of bills of a designated currency for the desired year. For more information and code samples, visit the API docs.
In a time when data privacy and government surveillance are major concerns for US citizens, the growing policy towards open data should offer some encouragement. What could come of this the Annual Production Figures API? We will have to wait an see, but should anticipate a cross discipline set of developers, economists, psychologists, and potentially others to offer some interesting insights into the behavior of the US economy and consumers of the last thirty years.