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What's that? The Bureau of Stats has an API and nobody TOLD you?

Australia's number-crunching bureau runs with the open data wolves

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Australia's national data-collector, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, has quietly published an API to its data sets.

While it won't replace most peoples' preferred (or at least tolerated) means to get ABS data - the spreadsheets and CSVs the ABS provides for easy database ingestion - the API will allow others to embed ABS data in their sites or apps by direct calls to the bureau.

It's not exactly new, since the API went into beta at the end of April, but apart from being listed on various open government sites, it seems to have been released with nary a shout.

Dubbed ABS ITT, the API provides a restful query interface to the ABS.Stat data warehouse.

The API's user documentation is here.

As the doc explains, all queries take a similar form: http://stat.abs.gov.au/itt/query.jsp?method= is followed by methods in which the user sets parameters such as the dataset they're querying and the values they want. In the example query from the ABS:

http://stat.abs.gov.au/itt/query.jsp?method=GetCodeListValue&datasetid=LF&concept=TSEST&format=json

… the user is asking for GetCodeListValue (querying against the code list used in a dataset), after which the parameters within the call are set.

Right now, the API allows queries ranging from very broad (GetDatasetList for example, which tells you what's available in the data warehouse), right down to performing calculations within queries (such as changes in population projections in different time periods). ®

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