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GDS launches government API catalogue

08/10/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has put out a call for public authorities to add to the newly created API catalogue.

API cloud graphic

It has made the catalogue available through the GitHub platform, aiming to cast more light on the activity around government in creating APIs.

This reflects a growing interest in using the mechanism to support data sharing between different organisations.

GDS said there are a handful of motives behind the move. One is to establish what APIs are published by government, to help understand the extent of developments and improve engagement with technology suppliers.

Another is to make clear where API development is taking place, so teams can reach out to others for advice and information on best practice and see what datasets are being commonly used.

Along with this is to establish whether APIs are suitable for reuse, and to encourage a wider adoption of best practice.

Notify beginning

It has been launched with a handful of APIs, including one for the GOV.UK Notify service, and GDS is inviting organisations to contribute their own to the GitHub section and take responsibility for keeping them updated.

An initial list was put together with a number of central government departments, but this has not been published as GDS felt the catalogue should be owned and managed by a cross-government community. Subsequently it has started the process again, and said it will be adding its own contributions “in the short term”.

“We expect it may take some work to get people contributing their APIs, but as the list gets bigger, more people will contribute,” a spokesperson said.

Initially the effort is being concentrate on central and local government.

“At the moment our objectives are around improving cross-government working so we can improve user experience of accessing services,” the spokesperson said. “The improvements will be helped by more APIs and more API reuse.”

It has also been discussing governance of the catalogue with the Government API and Data Exchange Community of Practice and the Technology and Digital Leaders Network.

Amended on 8 October to state there was more than one API on the catalogue

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