Kallos cited as an example the city’s 311 helpline system, and the constant complaints from users that either they have to wait too long on the phone when calling 311 or that the mobile application is often slow and inefficient. An API, Kallos insisted, would allow third parties to build tools to submit 311 requests directly, without users having to repeatedly provide their names, addresses, and other information. “Any time we’re requesting information from the public or giving out custom-tailored information, we could do this through an API.”
“We all love being able to order food or a car at the press of a button,” he added, emphasizing that applications would make it easier to access government services more efficiently. “Government can work that way too.”
If the proposal is passed, city agencies would have to implement APIs for their services and require contracted vendors to do the same. The bill would also mandate that the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) create a central repository with information on how to utilize APIs and a list of applications that interact with city APIs.
Applied across the city government, Kallos’ proposal would have broad implications for efficiency. It would streamline, for instance, applications for permits and licenses, much like tax preparation software helps people file their taxes easily.