How does the current use of APIs in digital government bring added value for public services?
To answer this question, the Commission department for Communications Networks, Content and Technology's (DG CONNECT) and the JRC launched In January 2018 the “APIs4DGov: APIs for Digital Government” study.
As part of the APIs4DGov study, the JRC hosted a workshop to assess the landscape of Government API strategies across Europe.
The objectives of the workshop were to
- explore the API strategies spectra in Europe and to
- facilitate networking among API decision-making stakeholders at strategic leves.
The workshop included keynote speeches from world-renowned experts from industry and academia, including David Berlind (Chief Editor of Programmable Web), Mehdi Medjaoui (Co-founder of the APIDays conferences), Kin Lane (the "API evangelist") and Mark Boyd (API and Platform strategist)
As well as these keynotes, specific sessions were dedicated to the representatives from governments across Europe. They presented their API strategies and experiences, providing valuable information about organisational arrangements, technical infrastructure approaches, barriers and risks faced (and mitigation measures), community building initiatives and the links between APIs and government platforms. Some key aspects of these interventions are outlined below.
- Today, APIs are supporting data reuse and sharing in practice at different levels of government (Ireland, Portugal, Netherlands, Amsterdam).
- They are becoming a valued asset in government, with examples of API catalogues also emerging (France, Norway)
- APIs have their history and evolution closely related to other ICT initiatives, including efforts to increase interoperability (including using open source software and modelling perspectives), support to the Once-Only Principle (OOP), open data/data catalogues, making use of data coming from the Internet of Things (IoT) and broader Smart City initiatives for data markets of relevance to the Digital Single Market (Italy, Portugal, Norway, Amsterdam, Santander, Helsinki). Their creation may also stem from policy needs in specific sectors, such as national environmental regulation (Netherlands) or local urban mobility (Madrid)
- API strategies can have multiple goals (Ireland), they can be closely related to e-government and interoperability strategies (Cyprus) and can be placed at the centre of digital service creation, including through a build-to-share/API-first approach (UK), including examples which incorporate ‘ethics by design’ (Amsterdam). Such strategies consider risks, barriers and mitigation measures, such as the dynamic nature of ICT and the need to create stable APIs (Netherlands). More examples of these are provided in the notes from the group discussions, below.
- APIs are helping to better organise the interface between internal and external data-sharing processes and internal and external actors (Amsterdam). For example, APIs are helping to streamline internal processes, a key aspect of digital government (Ireland, Malta), as well as helping to enhance, or help increase the efficiency of, digital service delivery to external actors (Ireland, Denmark).
- Government platforms and government gateway services create particular requirements for government API behaviour (Denmark, Malta, France), such as supporting a secure and trustworthy means to share data connections between citizens, businesses and public sector bodies.
- Support and coordination can include providing guidance and facilitation between government bodies, including from national to local levels (UK, Malta, Norway, Netherlands), as well as specific multi-stakeholder initiatives found at national (Helsinki, 6Aika) and international (OASC, SynchroniCity) levels.
Presentations and videos
The APIs4DGov study, Lorenzino Vaccari
APIs4Dgov Survey Results, Posada Monica
APIS Simplified, David Berlind, Editor in Chief, ProgrammableWeb, United States of America
My API journey, Kin Lane, API Evangelist, United States of America
City Government APIs Trends and Forecasts, Mark Boyd, API and Smart Cities Expert
From API Economy to Programmable Economy, Mehdi Medjaoui, co-founder of worldwide APIdays conferences series, France
The things you can learn about APIs from trying to classify them!, David Berlind
API National initiatives
Data Architecture in the government of Ireland, Mark Warren, Assistant principal, Department of Public Expenditure and reform, Ireland
A Danish perspective on a eGovernment interoperability, Sven Rostgaard Rasmussen, Chief Adviser, Danish Agency for Digitalisation, Denmark,
New directions for interoperability in Italy, Simone Piunno, Chief Transformation Officer, Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri, Digital Transformation Team, Italy
API strategy in the Government Digital Service (GDS) in UK, Rhian Jones, EU Policy Lead, Government digital Service, Cabinet office, United Kingdom
Portuguese government API strategy, Paulo Lobo, Head of the Digital Government Team, Administrative Modernisation Agency, Portugal
Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA), Joseph Grech, Solution Architect, Information Technology Agency, Malta
Cyprus government API strategy, Pavlos Hoplaros, IT Officer, DITS, Cyprus
DINSIC – France Connect, Patrick Amarelis, EA Architect DISINC, France
APIs for digital government in Norway, David Norheim, Special Director Information Management, Brønnøysund Register Center, Norway
Use of API’s in Statistics Netherlands, Dennis Ramondt, Product Owner, Statistics Office, Netherlands
API international, regional and local initiatives
Use of API’s in Kadaster Netherland, Dimitri van Hees, API Architect, Apiwise BV, Netherlands
Amsterdam City Data, Boris van Hoytema, Director, Foundation for Public code, Amsterdam
API for Mobility: Mobility Labs Madrid, Andrés Recio Martín, Head of Department of Business Application, EMT, Madrid
Santander smart city towards the Digital Single Market, Laura Rodríguez de Lope, Researcher, University of Cantabria
APIs in the core of open Smart City IoT in Helsinki, Hanna Niemi-Hugaerts, Director IoT, Forum Virium, Finland