Government releases We the People API

If you like access to government data, like petition signatures or broccoli crop yields, the White House has got you covered

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Thanks to the Open Government Initiative, we now have easy access to data on the broccoli industry

Image credit: REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the digital team at the White House. Last week they expanded their already large social media footprint by joining Tumblr. Then, yesterday, they announced the release of an API for their open source petition platform, We the People.

Since being launched in September, 2011, We the People has been used to create more than 200,000 petitions and gather more than 13 million signatures. The new API currently allows read-only access to data on petitions with at least 150 signatures. It allows you to query petitions based on date created, title/body text, signature count and status. You can also query signatures for a given petition and filter the results based on signee location and date. The API currently limits queries to 10 requests per second, though there are plans for a bulk data download and a write API in the near future.

Back in February, the White House hosted a hackathon with a couple of dozen programmers to help put the new API through its paces. Out of that came a handful of projects, some of which you can peruse here for inspiration. They’ll be hosting another hackathon on June 1 as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking.

If playing with government data is the sort of thing that floats your boat, then you’ll also really like Data.gov, which was created in 2009 as part of the Obama administration’s Open Government Initiative. It contains lots (and lots) of data from federal agencies; currently over 370,000 datasets. If you poke around, you can find some interesting (or different) data with which to while away the hours, such as:

Ok, you had me at sweet potatoes; I’m in. Looks like I know how I’ll be spending my weekend.

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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