Thursday, June 11, 2009 - By Miles - 3 comments

Time for an Open 311 API

An open letter to the Gov 2.0 Community:

The time has come for an open 311 API. Let's create it.

Some of us have been discussing how to create an open API for connecting to local government and we wanted to expand that discussion to a bigger group.

SeeClickFix has a draft of an open API that we've been working on for a bit and look forward to sharing it shortly. As DC has published their own API, Vancouver and Toronto are doing their thing, FixMyStreet has an effort and other 311 software vendors have their own APIs we are really excited to start collaborating towards a common API.

In order for this effort to have the most power, we'll want the most people involved and trusting it. Since some of us will work together or offer competitive services at various times, it may be best to consider carefully how to build that trust.

I think more people would feel comfortable about discussing the API in a public forum if it was controlled by neither a government entity nor a vendor. A neutral third party should really hold the domain, the wiki and any kind of email list. Who should that be?

If there was no clear choice, SeeClickFix would be happy to do the leg work to create a new non-profit to advance these kinds of standards.



  1. Kol says:

    Where in federal gov't do you see opportunities for APIs?

  2. Miles says:

    I think that is a great question and one worth discussing. My feeling is that it is getting more attention right now.

    Examples include conversations about publishing data via, OSTP's discussions on their blog, the appointment of Miriam Nisbet as head of Office of Government Information Services... etc.

    What do you have in mind?

  3. Pat says:

    Not sure about federal government, but I'm excited about the prospect of the next generation of municipal websites integrating characteristics of social networks, and a 311 API would be a wonderful contribution toward that :)

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