Food Engineering
TECH FLASH

USDA introduces new mobile tools and open data projects

New APIs and mobile apps are designed to bring USDA customer service into the 21st century.

June 12, 2013

USDA released several new mobile tools and open data projects designed to help consumers more easily access critical programs and stimulate further innovation. The releases are part of USDA’s 12-month Digital Government Strategy and include open data programming application interfaces (APIs) and mobile optimized service and systems, including a digital magazine and mobile apps.

The Economic Research Service (ERS) Web Content API provides programmatic access to primary content areas of the ERS public site, including Topics, Publications and Charts of Note. The ERS API can be found here. USDA also released the Farmers Market Directory API, a web API providing information about farmers market locations, operating times, product offerings and accepted forms of payment. The Farmers Market API can be found here.

In addition, USDA introduced mobile optimized services and systems like online magazines and mobile apps to help deliver 21st century service to customers and stakeholders. Amber Waves magazine, a window into the research and analysis conducted by ERS, moved from print to online-only in 2012, and in March, a free mobile app was launched for the iPad and other tablets. 

An Android app was also released for the Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) Directory to allow customers to quickly and easily look up meat and poultry producing facilities regulated by FSIS. The app provides enhanced search functionality, allowing users to filter MPI facility results by location, type of inspection, establishment name or number and type of establishment. An iOS version of the MPI Directory app is planned for later this year.

USDA’s final new tool is the service center locator. The mobile-optimized web app provides consumers with the location of offices serving their area including contact information, street maps and driving directions. The service center locator can be found here.

USDA.gov has also been optimized for mobile use, making it easier for consumers to access key topic data, news releases and other web content with smart phones and tablets. Optimization of the USDA blog is planned as well, and the agency has worked to establish a Digital Strategy governance policy integrating mobile optimization and open, machine-readable formats.