Idescat: widgets and APIs to open up information

The invention of the Web signified a revolution in accessing content. Thanks to the existence of links, suddenly any type of information was just a click away. Almost twenty years later, can we make this access even easier? Can we reverse the communication initiative, making it possible for the information to go to the user instead of the user having to go to the information? Can we, in short, open up the information and allow it to travel to the communities of users, where it is enriched through its combination with other content?

Idescat (Statistical Institute of Catalonia) has already taken steps in this direction. Its latest project has involved the development of widgets, i.e., small applications that make it possible to incorporate external information into a web page by copying a few lines of code. Idescat’s first widgets are those which feature the Indicators of the day, which provide customizable updated information for monitoring the Catalan economy.

However, Idescat has not created a monopoly on the development of widgets based on its information, but rather has built them with an open design. They are based on an application programming interface (API) that offers methods which allow third-party programmes to obtain information from Idescat and incorporate it into other services.  Thus, anyone can use it to develop their own widgets or applications.

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