ONS produces a variety of different data, and a lot of it. We’re keen to share it with you. As well as making our data available through our website, we will also be making it easy for other systems and applications to take our data and reuse it directly.
Other systems will be able to access ONS data through an ONS API (Application Programming Interface). The systems will be able to discover and extract ONS data. If you’ve got a system that uses a lot of ONS data then it may be beneficial to obtain the data in this way.
The initial focus of the API Service will be for the provision of data from the 2011 Census. We will be including other ONS data, but not all ONS data will be available from the launch of the service.
The ONS API Service is more than a technical solution. It is also an opportunity to be collaborative, and as well as providing assistance and support using the API, we are keen to create a place to share ideas and discuss how to get the best from ONS data. We will also be looking to identify common uses of the API and to provide tools to help.
We are keen to talk to people who may want to use the API. If that’s you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ONS API Service will be a RESTful service implemented using REST (Representational State Transfer). It works using stateless interaction with a hierarchical structure of resources addressed using Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) and only the use of the verbs GET, PUT, POST and DELETE. A more detailed explanation of REST can be found on Wikipedia.
Client applications can be written in any language which supports HTTP requests, which is pretty much anything including modern mobile devices.
The primary output format for data structures is an international XML standard called SDMX.