Calling all Open Data ninjas: towards a better API

As you may already have heard, our mission at Govt.nz is to help the public interact more easily with government.

This isn’t limited only to the pages of Govt.nz, though — it’s also about sharing data and datasets. Anyone can use this data to build useful apps, informative visualisations, or anything else they want.

Our primary way of sharing data is through our API.

Built during Govt.nz’s initial development, we know it has some rough edges. Now, we’re looking at how to help it be the best API it can be.

We’ve had some great feedback and suggestions so far. It’s included increasing the default number of records a query can return, and including more information about individual Ministers and their terms in office.

We want to know more, though, and we’re hoping you can help us.

Some of the questions we have include:

  • What data should the API have?
  • How do you think it should work?
  • What would make it useful for you?
  • Are there any particular output formats you prefer?
  • Where do you think it could be used?
  • Have you/your organisation already been using the API and if so, how?

One of the things we’ve been mulling over is whether the API should access all Govt.nz content. At the moment, it only accesses the contact details in the site’s government directory. What do you think?

We’re not opposed to a major revamp of the API, so please don’t hold back.

Read the current API’s documentation. You can share your thoughts with us by commenting below, emailing or tweeting us. We’re looking forward to hearing from you 🙂

5 comments

  1. Comment #1. robert morris:

    Hey there,

    Here`s my two nibs worth.

    I am not a tech expert on API`s. I am enrolled in the Data Science course in the MOOC with Johns Hopkins University, which includes the wonderful R programming language, and on the side I am studying ProcessingJS.

    My goal is to create interactive art projects driven by data, for education and social change projects for schools. I am an eclectic mix (as we all are) so, it would be great if the data were delivered in a manner which allowed, manipulation at a high degree. Then we can mix race, colour, higher education and fishing, or fish or smell. Whatever, from wherever. Personally, I am also interested in Storm and Kafka live streaming data for creative coding, painting with data.

    Hope this helps. Oh, one other thing. Open source is at the heart of any democracy, and it allowed R programming to grow into a world class product. It follows then, that the API should be equally democratic, and open to integration with other technologies.

    All the best,
    Robert

  2. Comment #2. Aimee Whitcroft

    Thanks for your feedback, Robert! Could you unpack a little for me “if the data were delivered in a manner which allowed, manipulation at a high degree”? What do you mean by that?

    And the course sounds great 🙂 I’m a big fan of what Processing can achieve.

  3. Comment #3. Aaron McGlinchy:

    Hi, how does http://www.govt.nz relate to https://data.govt.nz?

    I did not find a link to https://data.govt.nz from http://www.govt.nz, yet intuitively there should be strong links?

    Thanks
    Aaron

  4. Comment #4. Aimee Whitcroft

    Thanks for the feedback, Aaron!

    We’re constantly working on ways to evolve and improve Govt.nz, and our focus has been on high demand / hard-to-use government info. We’re working closely with data.govt.nz on how and where content fits, but of course any suggestions you have about where it could most usefully fit would be great.

  5. Comment #5. Aimee Whitcroft

    General notice: I’ll be heading to Open Data Day on November 20th. Feel free to come say hi if any of you would like to chat in person 🙂

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