Technology

API Challenge Looks to Spur Scientific Enterprise

By / Aug 2, 2017 (iStock/Thinkstock)

As part of its ongoing digital strategy, the American Geophysical Union is hosting an API Challenge to advance scientific discovery in the data community.

Through its first Application Program Interface (API) Challenge, the American Geophysical Union is offering scientists, developers, and others the opportunity to create solutions that will advance Earth and space science.

Participants, who will be given access to an API containing data from AGU’s upcoming Fall Meeting, are tasked with developing web-based tools that will help users—including AGU members—with everything from finding new collaboration opportunities to identifying relevant research.

“Having easy access to that data is something we know our members want,” said Dana Rehm, AGU’s senior vice president of marketing, communications, and engagement. “Not only does this challenge allow us to experiment with open data, it’s giving us an opportunity to solve a known member need.”

This challenge also highlights AGU’s longstanding advocacy of open data, which Rehm said contributes not only to scientific advancement but also the public good. The Fall Meeting attracts a very large crowd from the data community, making it the “perfect platform” for showcasing the API Challenge, she said.

To drive participation, AGU is using social media to connect with experts in the open-science, open-data, and software-development communities, in addition to its standard member communication channels. “We want to see how they receive the idea of an organization like AGU opening our data and inviting others to work with it,” Rehm said.

Challenge winners, who will be determined by a panel of experts, will be recognized at the Fall Meeting. The top-three solutions will also take home cash prizes of $15,000, $10,000, and $5,000.

The API Challenge is the latest installment in AGU’s ongoing digital strategy, which began in 2014, to make its content and data more accessible. Over the past two years, AGU also has hosted an extensive data program at its Fall Meeting to address the various needs and challenges surrounding open data. “The API program is one building block, and we look forward to expanding it with more data and content,” Rehm said.

In addition, the API Challenge provides an important learning opportunity for AGU moving forward, as the group looks to generate greater awareness within the open science and open data community. “Over time, we expect that the products developed by AGU and by our community will help our members’ and others to find each other and connect, share information, and expand upon their discoveries, making the work of Earth and space scientists easier and more productive than ever,” Rehm said.

Thorne McFarlane

Thorne is an assistant editor for Associations Now and a literature buff who loves a great story. Have something interesting to share? Send it his way. More »

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