You don’t find me showcasing specific APIs often. I’m usually talking about an API because of their approach to the technology, business, or politics of how they do APIs. It just isn’t my style to highlight APIs, unless I think they are interesting, and delivering value that is worth talking about, or possibly reflecting a meaningful trend that is going on. In this case it is a useful API that I think brings value, but also provides an example of an API I can showcase to non-developer folks as a meaningful example of an API.
The API I’m talking about today, is the Air API, an asthma API from Propeller, which provides a set of free tools to help people understand current asthma conditions in their neighborhoods. The project is led by the Propeller data scientists and clinical researchers, looking to leverage Air API to help predict how asthma may be affected by local conditions, including a series of tools that share local asthma conditions, ranging from an email or text subscription, to an embeddable Air Widget for other websites.
The Air API provides an easy to explain example of what is possible with APIs. Environmental APIs will continue to be an important aspect of doing APIs. Aggregating sensor and other data to help us understand the air, water, weather, and other critical environmental factors that impact our lives each day. I like the idea of these APIs being open and available to 3rd party developers to build tools on top of them, while the platforms using them as a marketing vehicle for their other products and services, while making sure to keep the valuable data accessible to everyone.
I’ll put the Air API into my toolbox of APIs I use to help onboard folks with APIs. If they are impacted by asthma, or know someone who is, it helps make the personal connection, which can be important when on-boarding folks with the abstract concepts surrounding APIs. People tend to not care about technology until it makes an impact on their world. Which is one reason I think healthcare and environment APIs are going to play an important role in the sector for years to come. They provide a rich world of data, content, and algorithms, that can be exposed via APIs, and be applied in meaningful ways in people’s lives. Leaving a (hopefully) positive impression on folks about what APIs can do.