The Value of APIs for Government
As the availability and use of web and mobile apps have soared, governments at all levels are increasingly turning to these channels to improve their communications with and responsiveness to the public. Government records and data that were previously isolated and difficult for the public to access are now becoming widely available through APIs (application programming interfaces). By utilizing APIs to expose such data, government empowers creative developers to discover and implement new uses for the information – in ways that engage and inform the public while also making government more transparent, responsive, and effective. By making use of such APIs itself, government entities can improve its own operations to better serve its citizens. These changes are making it increasingly important for federal, state, and local government bodies and agencies to develop and execute successful API strategies.
APIs Help Government
Inform and Interact With the Public
An effective API can offer the public new ways to use and interact with government records and services. Take, for example, the restaurant inspection scores of a local government health department. In the past, the utility of such scores may have been limited by the lack of engaging means to publicize them. Now, by making such scores publicly available on the web and easily accessible through a well-designed API, the local health department can leverage the ingenuity of outside developers to disseminate and find new uses for the restaurant scores through new applications. Developers create apps that list local dining spots based on various user-selected criteria, including health scores. Healthcare organizations create apps that use the scores, combined with dietary and nutritional information, to recommend healthier eating options for its subscribers. And the health department itself creates an app that makes it easy for the public to find the health score of any restaurant within its jurisdiction. In these and other ways, the health department has vastly expanded the public utility and reach of its restaurant health score records – all simply by making the data accessible through an API.
Streamline Government Operations
The local health department could also develop private APIs for use by its own employees — for example, through a mobile app that provides its restaurant inspectors with better tools to assess, record, and recall health scores more accurately and efficiently. Another API could enable restaurants to more easily track and verify the implementation of items in its health evaluation action list. These are just a few examples of how internal APIs can improve a government’s operational efficiency and public service.
Challenges of Developing and Integrating APIs for Government
Most government departments and agencies that have been around for several years have, over time, deployed a mix of technologies, computer systems, data sources, and applications to solve a variety of organizational and operational challenges. These earlier legacy systems become increasingly inefficient as they age and fail to support interoperability with emerging technologies. Organizations that are dependent on such legacy systems often encounter problems when attempting to add newer services and software, like SaaS applications and modern APIs. Sometimes these problems can be addressed with point-to-point integrations among existing systems. But eventually, these custom point-to-point integrations create multiple, fragile dependencies that complicate systems and make them more prone to failure at even the slightest changes.
Another challenge for government in developing APIs is the lack of access to effective tools for designing, testing, managing, and monitoring them. Moreover, without a vibrant developer community to can provide feedback and insights into the APIs’ design and features, APIs can be difficult to promote. Overcoming these challenges is critical to developing well-crafted and engaging APIs that inspire widespread adoption.
Simplify API Management, Design, and Development
Anypoint Platform™ makes it easy for government entities to enable seamless integration and interoperability throughout the organization. MuleSoft's Anypoint Platform offers a number of valuable open source components — such as CloudHub and Mule as an ESB — that make it easy to share information across applications, services, and systems — even legacy systems. The connectivity these solutions provide allows government entities to unlock the systems and data that enable the creation of modern, powerful APIs.
Anypoint™ Connectors provide instant API connectivity to some of the most common government applications and services. With a library of pre-built application integration solutions, government entities can rapidly connect and integrate CRM, accounting, database, communications, and other applications with legacy systems. Unlike other integration options, Anypoint Connectors are built and managed on MuleSoft’s Enterprise integration platform, allowing government entities to deploy integrations rapidly, either on-premises or in the cloud.
In addition, MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform for APIs delivers the tools government needs to design and build APIs that developers want to use. Moreover, with tools to ensure that your API performs and scales to meet current and projected requirements, ensuring the success of your API is simplified. With tools to support every step in the development and implementation of APIs, Anypoint Platform for APIs is the most effective way to manage your APIs from a single platform.
Anypoint Platform for APIs makes it easy to:
- Consult with app developers to design great APIs. Anypoint Platform for APIs enables collaboration between API and application developers throughout the API lifecycle. This close collaboration ensures the creation of APIs that will inspire app developers, paving the way to widespread adoption. And by leveraging RAML tooling, the API Platform offers an onramp for API developers to design RESTful APIs quickly, using expressive, intuitive language.
- Manage the full API lifecycle. By leveraging MuleSoft’s proven, trusted runtime, Anypoint Platform for APIs allows you to easily design APIs quickly, integrate them with ease, collaborate effortlessly, and scale securely and reliably.
- Manage and monitor APIs. API management, governance, and monitoring can be done quickly and easily through a single point of management. Controlling access, establishing SLAs, or throttling calls to API endpoints can be done Choose from pre-packaged policy templates, or create your own to manage compliance, security, and quality of service. And dashboard analytics make it easy to monitor usage, compliance with SLAs, and overall API performance.
- Drive engagement with your API. Anypoint Platform for APIs makes it easy to encourage engagement between the developer community and your API. Create and publish interactive docs and code samples, so developers can get started with your API in minutes.
These and other components of MuleSoft’s API and integration solutions make it easy for government entities to design, develop, implement, and manage useful and engaging APIs. Anypoint Platform for APIs allows government entities to unlock legacy systems and access data within their internal systems. Moreover, leveraging the power of a creative developer community makes it easy to create new ways for the public to interact and engage with their government — and to improve and streamline its own operations. Contact us today to learn more about how MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform can help make government at all levels more transparent, more efficient, and more responsive to the needs of its citizens. With solutions for SaaS, SOA and API, Anypoint Platform enables seamless connectivity across the entire enterprise.
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