Start With Your Public Website When You Begin Your Inventory For Data APIs

I'm working on taking inventory of data assets at the Department of Veterans Affairs. While eventually this will include private data assets, in the beginning we are focusing on data that can be made public without being worried about personally identifiable information or health information.

There are a lot of hurdles to get over, including educating people about what is a data asset, as well as the process of identifying, preparing, publishing and listing the data assets in a publicly available marketplace.

We are at the point where everyone is looking around for potential data assets that can be included in the current open data inventory cycle. It is proving to be a challenge for folks to find datasets they can include. To help the process along I've set my focus on the public website,, and finding data that has already been published in various formats on the site.

Data and content is already available on the public web site represents the low hanging fruit when it comes to identifying open data that should be made available in machine readable formats like JSON and XML as well as available in APIs.

This approach works in both the public and private sector. If you feel it is valuable enough to have on your already, it is a perfect candidate to make available as open data or API. Once you get the hang of identifying, processing and publishing this open data and APIs, you can start the much more difficult process of looking for harder to identify data sets and resources.