What is CitySDK?
The Census Bureau wanted to make its authoritative data on the nation’s people and economy easier to use for software developers and data scientists. This data helps city planners and development officers better allocate their investments, businesses optimize their operations, and non-profits to understand if their programs are being successful. To fulfill the vision of making Census data as easy to use as possible in the digital age, the Census Bureau built the CitySDK (software development kit), after inspiration from a project under the same name in the EU.
A major usability gap existed in combining Census data with other datasets, and quickly getting up and running. In recent years, the open data movement has encouraged government agencies to provide their data through their APIs (application programming interfaces). Census was an early pioneer in this approach, and has over 100M API calls a month, or 4M calls per day. But often times, one dataset is not sufficient to create a web application or for data science projects, users want to combine data from different sources. An example of this is taking Census data on median income, combined with USDA data on SNAP retailers.