The US City SDK was created by the US Census Bureau to be a user-friendly “toolbox” for civic technologists to connect local and national public data The creation of the CitySDK came out of the desire to make it easier to use the Census API for common tasks that their developer community asked for. For the past two years, the Census Bureau has been engaging with the developer community to see how they use the API. After seeing the most commonly used functions being built out of the API, the Census Bureau has now built those functions into the SDK to make it easier for developers.
These features include:
- Entering a lat/long location or a zipcode to get a FIPS code (A FIPS code identifies counties and county equivalents)
- Use a single call to get American Community Survey (ACS) 5-yr 2013 values and Census geographic boundaries
- A modular architecture which makes for use with third-party data.
- The ability to pull down Census Bureau geographic boundaries by sending your own custom geography in the request. (For example, if you wanted to get information about a specific neighborhood.)
The CitySDK has the same data as the Census API, but the wrapper makes it easier to manage. The Census module can access the Census’s ACS 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year surveys.
The Census has made a number of guides available for developers interested in using the SDK. Jeff Meisel, a Presidential Innovation Fellow with the Census Bureau, stopped by Smart Chicago to give a demonstration of the software to help orient people to the new SDK.