The Department of Environment and Science’s Science Division maintains scientific information systems that manage foundational datasets for the Queensland Government. Most of these datasets are freely available and used by the government, industry, researchers and the public, but they’re not always easy to access or consume.
As part of the Accelerating Science Delivery Innovation (ASDI) program, Science Division are exploring ways to develop and deliver better and more application programming interfaces (APIs) to improve access and enable users to consume Science Division data. APIs allow for real-time data interoperability.
The team partnered with Axalon (a vendor who had already had success with prototyping an API delivery platform as part of the Testing Within Government (TWiG) program) to explore how an API management approach might work and if it would add value.
They looked at the:
- capabilities that could be unlocked by improving API delivery
- cost, capabilities and environments needed to better deliver, manage and interoperate APIs
- cloud and how a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering could improve delivering, managing and interoperating APIs
- requirements to standardise designing, describing and delivering APIs with interoperability in mind
- benefits of well-managed and interoperable APIs.
The team used existing Science Division services, WildNet web service and Air Quality API, to demonstrate the capability of a leading cloud-based API management SaaS offering. They proved, in the case of the WildNet Web Service, that they could transform a legacy web service into a fully managed, open and interoperable API with very little development time and effort.
They demonstrated that API management could be an effective way to mature their data delivery services and would be an important tool to monitor users, usage and performance of APIs. It ensures a standardised approach to API development and delivery.
Science Division are active in the Open Data space and are building APIs to modernise the way we deliver our data and services. The proof-of-concept clearly demonstrated the extra value of proper management, tracking and delivery of APIs in a consistent open way.
The key enabler for implementing an API management service, and ensuring user adoption and interoperability of the APIs, is the OpenAPI Specification.
The OpenAPI Specification is a defined standard for language-agnostic APIs, which simplifies and streamlines their adoption, deployment, documentation and discoverability. Implementing OpenAPI will:
- create better documentation and data discovery
- inform decisions through analytics of user behaviour and API performance
- increase deployment speed
- ensure a consistent development approach
- reduce repetitive development tasks
- protect APIs from malicious user behaviour
- save time and money while accelerating product development.
Adopting the OpenAPI Specification and an API management approach will help the Science Division open more of their data sets for greater, real-time consumption. It will remove much of the repetitive development tasks associated with API creation, which will result in faster deployment, and faster adoption and consumption within the community.