The White House introduced Wednesday the first version of its application programming interface for the online petition site, “We the People.”
Developed in part during the White House Hackathon, the API provides read-only access to data on all petitions that passed the 150-signature threshold – the number needed for a petition to be publicly viewable on the site.
“At its most basic, We the People is a conversation,” said Leigh Heyman, White House director of new media technologies. “Individuals ask questions of the White House, and the Obama administration responds. What this API allows us to do is broaden the discussion – make it as flexible, open and transparent as possible. And if you take the time to build a tool that leverages the API, you’ll be making it easier for others to take part in this national dialogue.”
The White House now plans to create a write API that will allow individuals to collect and submit signature from their own platforms, without sending users directly to the “We the People” site.
For those who do not need real-time data, the White House also plans to add a bulk data download option in the near future. Until that is ready, an incomplete sample data set is available.
Once that is complete, the White House plans to decouple the presentation and data layers of the application and begin building a new more streamlined signature process.
The White House also plans to host another hackathon June 1 as part of the National Civic Day of Hacking. For the event, the White House will make the GitHub repository open to the public.
Since its inception in 2011, “We the People” has garnered more than 200,000 petitions from 8 million users and captured more than 13 million signatures.