Taking Steps to Make Energy Data More Accessible
From economic projections and fuel costs to renewable energy potential estimates and power outage reports, the Energy Department produces vast amounts of data. These data are most valuable when they are being used to produce reports, analyses, tools, and applications, and so it is no surprise that we are always looking for ways to make energy data more accessible.
That is why we’re excited about the growth of tools for making energy data available via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). APIs allow web and mobile applications to access updated energy data in a variety of formats, and often simplify the process of developing a data-driven application.
The Socrata Open Data API (SODA) is one of these new tools. Data.gov makes this service available to federal agencies, providing a platform for interacting with data online and connecting that data to applications via the API. We’re just getting started with hosting energy data on SODA, but one example is the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) State Energy Data System. You can access the SODA version here, and you should also check out the extensive analysis and documentation provided by EIA on their website.
OpenEI is another example of Energy Department web services, this one sponsored by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. OpenEI hosts a variety of U.S. and international energy data, with a focus on renewables. In particular, OpenEI contains a database of incentives and policies that encourage renewable energy generation and energy efficiency, and this database is available to developers. For example, the team at DSIRE collects this information, but it also appears on Energy.gov via OpenEI’s data services.
The national labs are also involved in efforts to make Energy Department data more accessible. TheNational Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has launched their Developer Network to help software developers access and use renewable energy and alternative fuel data. Any aspiring coder can sign up for an API key and start using NREL’s first-rate data on electricity, solar energy, or alternative fuels.
As the year goes on, we’ll be making more and more data sets available via these services, continuing our mission to make Energy Department data as open, and as useful, as possible.