It’s not hard to see why Government Computer News named Science.gov Mobile one of the top 10 federal mobile apps. You can use the Android app to search scientific databases from 12 federal agencies, including NASA, the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency, with data going back to 1990. The Science.gov API allows any developer to tap into those same resources. But for businesses, it's also part of a growing trend: Open data sets, made available via APIs.
Open data is basically a dataset that’s been made freely available, usually by a government agency, although it certainly isn’t limited to that. That sounds so simple, but experts actually believe open data could be the key to major business innovation and new sources of revenue — not to mention the Semantic Web.
In fact, Gartner analysts say open data will be “far more consequential” than Big Data when it comes to revenue growth and business value.
The key to unleashing this potential is the open data API, which is now considered a “best practice for opening data and functionality to developers and other businesses,” writes Gartner.
“Gartner analysts believe an open data strategy should be a top priority for any organization that uses the Web as a channel for delivering goods and services,” Gartner stated in a recent press release. “Open data strategies support outside-in business practices that generate growth and innovation. … Gartner analysts said that any business that has a data warehouse should consider how it can use data as a strategic asset and revenue generator.”
It’s not just individual organizations that will benefit from open data, thought. It’s possible open data could become the building blocks a new Web, the Semantic Web, as ReadWriteWeb explained in March.
Although ProgrammableWeb does not list Open datasets under one category, you'll find open data APIs available under federal government, major US cities and Europe. There are 236 government APIs as well as 63 APIs for databases registered on ProgrammableWeb.