Protecting Our Valuable Data With APIs
In my travels over the last couple of weeks I have found myself in two separate cities, listening to two separate stories about using APIs to help protect some valuable data, that someone was trying to defend, but also putting out there with APIs in hopes of generating revenue to keep things ing. Often times when you mention APIs to someone, they automatically think they will have less control over their data in a digital environment, but increasingly company's are realizing that they actually have the potential to result in more control.
In Oxford, UK
While in Oxford I met with the dictionaries API team, as well as other groups in charge of the important resource, including the OED team. They have been working on their dictionary content since 1884. They have put a significant amount of work into their dictionaries, and are very keen on defending the value of this important resource, while also making it available for use by partners, as well as the public. They are looking for APIs to help them define their dictionary API resources, and evolve them based on the feedback of their trusted partners who are approved to use the APIs.
In Boulder, CO
While in Boulder I met with a 211 data service provider, and a handful of their 211 operators who are looking for APIs to help them protect their valuable resources. Each city, county, or state organization has invested a lot into their databases of organizations, locations, and services that deliver vital human services in their local area. It takes a good deal of investment to maintain an up to date 211 system, and these operators are looking to fund that hard work using APIs, while also defending the integrity of their valuable resource--striking just the right balance with APIs.
APIs are not a guarantee that your data will always be in a perfect state, and only in the hands of the right people, but a well-managed API implementation can go long ways to protect a valuable dataset, while also making it easily accessible to those who should have access. APIs are helping Oxford Dictionaries, and 211 operators define access to their APIs on their terms--all while logging, metering, and stay in tune with who is accessing, and how they are using it.
Both Oxford Dictionaries and city, county, and state 211 operators want their data as widely available as possible. They want their partners to have easy access, but they also want to maintain a certain amount of control over the quality of the data, and how it is used, and made available on the open web. APIs are helping them define this access, while also being able to understand how APIs are consumed by applying rate limiting when it makes sense, and generating much-needed revenue to invest back into future development.
My recent travels have given me two new stories I can tell when helping companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies are looking understand how you can use APIs to protect your data.