How-To: Build Awesome Apps With APIs of Gov’t Data

I asked the awesome opengovtracker.com team if there were any lessons learned from their experience building a cool from gov’t data. Things agencies and developers should be watching.

4 Lessons:

1 – Use platforms that have APIs – We used the Ideascale API (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_programming_interface).
Really the major lesson is for government to use platforms which have
an API as it allows simple apps to be created from that data. If the
apps are useful, then developers will put in additional time to make it
even more useful, and you get a virtuous cycle.

2) Give People A Hook – Giving people a hook to help expose and
bring users to your product and activities is definitely a good thing
especially for governments working on transparency.

3 – Make sure the API is robus – Oh, and as far as
easy/hard – it would be good to have a bit more robust API so you can
do some cool analytics around the data. 😉

4 – Low Hanging Fruit – From a developer
perspective, there’s just so much low hanging fruit in this space right
now, there’s a lot people can do without too much time investment that
will create a lot of value. We did the app in a few days– “we did some poking around in the evenings early last week but really hammered it out thursday and saturday.”

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Profile Photo Steve Ressler

Agreed. Truly it is the velocity that is impressive.

I think the trick also is whether the rules/regulations will also move that fast. If a site like opengovtracker was done by a GSA/OMB, it is very likely it would get stuck for awhile in SDLC and other regulations.

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