Web Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) help make data held within one organisation easier to share with others, in a way that's standardised, secure, and importantly easy to reuse.
Why is this important? As an example, the COVID-19 pandemic has required the UK government to get better at sharing data securely and safely between departments to build new response services.
APIs also help government organisations to open up their data to users in the private sector. The DVLA's Vehicle Enquiry Service, for example, gives software developers access to data about vehicles to build services that make it easier for the public to find information about second-hand cars before they buy.
Are you managing APIs for your organisation, or do you work on a service that uses APIs?
It can be a challenge to develop and maintain APIs - and even to find them. The Data Standard Authority's API and Data Exchange Community of Practice meetups provide a forum to look at common challenges and share experiences and solutions from across the UK public sector.
The most common challenges include:
- getting senior leader and stakeholder buy-in and resourcing for providing APIs
- helping organisations change how they design and provision APIs to create and run better services
- seeing the provision of an API (or multiple APIs) as a service, and building something useful and visible to users
- making sure APIs have a high level of security
- choosing the best API solutions for the context, and knowing when to change
- coping with success - making sure that services can scale over time with increased numbers of APIs and users
Our next meeting will take place remotely on Wednesday 24 March. The event will feature speakers from across the public sector talking about their experiences with managing API platforms and catalogues. If you're a public sector worker, you can book tickets for the event.
Future meetups will cover:
- getting stakeholder buy-in and building a business case
- API development and management strategy
- API security
- GraphQL and non-RESTful APIs
- testing and assessing APIs
The community is part of the DSA's cross-government API Programme, helping to share better API development and management practice across government.
If you work for the UK public sector developing or managing your organisation's API service, or you work on a service that uses APIs and you'd like to improve it, the Data Standards Authority's API Programme can help.
To find out more about the Programme and join the cross-government API and Data Exchange Community of Practice, email us. Public sector workers can also join our Community Slack, and we're also on the #apis channel of the cross-government digital Slack. Finally, you can also leave a comment on this blog post and we'll get back to you.