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Recreation Information Database API

Sharing API expertise to improve a critical solicitation.

Summary

When the Recreation Information Database (RIDB) contract came up for rebid, the request for proposal (RFP) had insufficient language regarding an application programming interface (API). Without the right language, the government risked procuring a solution that would leave the existing website as the only source for browsing national park information from the database, thus limiting the potential for mobile and other forward-thinking types of applications.

An abstract image of a camping tent enclosed within API computing symbols.

The challenge

The Department of Agriculture's RIDB RFP was going to close in two weeks. To align this effort with its Open Data Policy, the White House sought urgent advice on how to make the RFP more API focused so that the next generation of Recreation.gov could not only serve mobile users, but also foster future innovation via an external API developer community.

The solution

Working as an API evangelist, Kin Lane answered the White House's call-to-civic-action by proposing critical language changes to the RIDB RFP to ensure that vendor proposals reflected an API-based solution approach using modern practices such as RESTful API design, supporting documentation, and software development kits (SDKs).

Following the rework and release of the RFP, Kin engaged even further in helping to make the RIDB API initiative a success by building a user and developer community around the API, as well as collaborating with industry and government to explore innovative economic models for monetizing access to national park data.

The results

Thus far, notable results include:

  • Shaped the final RFP for RIDB, which resulted in the development and release of a public API
  • Facilitated innovative thinking around the monetization of government's public data