US government releases API for census data
The US Census Bureau has made an HTTP-based API available which gives developers access to the data collected in the 2010 Census and in the American Community Survey from the same year. The terms of service attached to the API permit unrestricted use of the data as long as it is clearly attributed to the source and the application does not use the Census Bureau name to imply any kind of endorsement by the organisation. Furthermore, if the data is changed or misrepresented in any way, users may not claim that the source of the information was the Census Bureau.
The API provides access to anonymised statistical data on citizens of the United States; this data is organised by geographical regions from federal states down to county level. The collected data includes age, sex, ethnic background, home ownership information, education, income and employment. Subsets of this data have been available from the Census Bureau's web site for a while, including through the American FactFinder.
The Census Bureau hopes that the API will make its data more useful for the wider public and that it will inspire the creation of new applications. Making government data more widely accessible to researchers, scientists and other government offices has been a focus of President Obama's Open Data Initiatives.