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USDA, ERS Moving Down the Track to Open Data

Each day, the Charts of Note series from the Economic Research Service (ERS) delivers an innovative, visual display of research findings. Wouldn’t it be great if these charts could be easily grabbed for use on your own website or blog? Well, now they can.

The new Federal Open Data Policy asks agencies to use machine-readable formats when they build and disseminate information. At ERS, we are already traveling down that track…for Charts of Note and more. Our goal is to improve the reach, accessibility, and utility of important research findings.

This winter, we rolled out an initial set of APIs (application programming interfaces)—offering web developers and researchers machine-readable access to our agency’s web content, publications, and charts.  API access to ERS data products will start later this year.

And now, our new Charts of Note widget is available.  It’s a good example of an API-driven product.  This widget offers easy-to-use code snippets that bloggers or website developers can grab to embed specific daily charts, or to automatically display the most recently published chart on their pages.

A May 3 blog post on Slate praising ERS charts and research—published before the Charts of Note widget was released—demonstrates the appetite for this type of offering.

Contributing to USDA’s Digital Strategy, ERS will continue to improve its API offerings, building upon recommendations from a recent usability review at GSA’s Digital Innovation Center.

ERS has a wealth of information on agriculture, rural, and nutrition topics. All of our public data are available free, online. We provide data in various forms and formats to suit customer needs, as well as tools for exploring the data—ranging from chart collections to data files, queriable applications, and interactive mapping.  Check us out.

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