APIs Can Save Money and Make Government More Efficient

While I was out in Washington DC this week, one of the Presidential Innovation Fellows in my workshop was from the Department of Energy, and shared one of the best examples of APIs delivering value I’ve seen in awhile.

The US Department of Energy has developed the Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework (KDF), which is a platform for researchers and engineers from national laboratories, academia, and private industries to upload files, customize information online, and exchange knowledge with each other.

The Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework provides acess to a landmark “Billion-Ton” bioenergy study on fuel resources, providing a wealth of information from a variety of researchers. The study generated a large volume of interest, and resulted in numerous requests for raw data disclosure from the researchers.

In response the project deployed a web API, providing direct access to raw data, saving the resources necessary to reach out to researchers as well as the researchers valuable time in processing requests and providing data.

The US Department of Energy estimates they saved $882,000 in operational costs and researchers valuable time by bundling the API with the bioenergy study.

This is why I evangelize APIs. The US Department of Energy case study demonstrates not just the value of APIs, but how they can actually make government more efficient and save tax payers money.

In addition I strongly advocate that APIs and raw data access should be default for all studies and resulting reports, allowing anyone to dive deeper into the research and provide additional insights.