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The EPA Has a Plan to Use APIs to Improve Data Aggregation Processes

By Steve Anderson
May 23, 2016

While some may call the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the last line of defense against total environmental disaster, and others may call it an active impediment to economic progress, its original mission remains unchanged: to protect the environment the best it can. These days, it's turning to application programming interfaces (APIs) to help do that job.

More specifically, the EPA is turning to APIs to streamline the vast amounts of data it brings in regularly from factories and similar organizations, as well as those who need to send different data in for different specific functions. For instance, one factory that's subject to provisions of the Clean Air Act may need to report certain data for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention different from what's reported to the Office of Air and Radiation. That discrepancy can make for some confusion, and difficulty in figuring out what to do next. Throw in state governments collecting data independently and it's a recipe for an alphabet soup of failure points.

To address this, the EPA recently created an interface for states to use to validate new information before it's posted, and that helps improve the overall data flow. Since the API can accommodate different technologies, the users can advance technology accordingly, and the entire system can advance right along with it. The EPA is also looking to cloud platforms for data access, since it will be simpler to file data to these as well as access the data from these.

No matter what one's personal opinion of the EPA is, there's no denying that it's dealing with large quantities of data. That sheer flood of information can be a hindrance to decent reactions. In this case, using an API-based approach should deliver some results as it can be better tailored to address needs on the ground, and the EPA has plenty of those on hand. As we've said many times here, having data is one thing, but it has to be used to have any true value. The EPA's approach should help ensure that the data gathered can be used effectively.

Those interested in other approaches to using data, or any of the thousands of other things APIs can do, will want to pay attention to the upcoming All About the API show. Running July 18 – 21 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the show will not only offer keynote speakers in the field, but also allow for networking opportunities and exhibitions of what's going on in the API field. There will even be a set of hackathons allowing users to actively develop the next generation of API development at the show itself.

APIs are increasingly proving a valuable part of any company's technological roster.  Able to address a growing slate of issues, and developing all the while, further use cases for these valuable tools will likely be forthcoming.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Contributing Writer

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