Some Cool Open Data API

By | October 7, 2016

In this post I’ve found some cool open data APIs which allow access to a range of data including environmental, weather, economic, and transport data.

Organisations are increasingly making their data available via an API. An API, or Application Programming Interface allows users to access services or data using a particular set of commands or instructions. For the owner of the open data API it means they can control who has access to their data and how. For us it means we can have access to vast amounts of data from pretty much all aspects of life.

Find out how to use an API


Environmental Science Data Spring

This first one is actually a collection of APIs¬† – “a one-stop shop for trusted environmental data”. It brings together APIs from UK organisations such as the MetOffice, the Ordnance Survey, and the Environment Agency.

essp - open data apis

These organisations share data (some of it free, some of it paid for) on a whole host of themes including flood risks, soil types and sunshine duration. You can even use their Open Data viewer to explore what they offer. You might also want to check out the Open Weather Map, which also has an API.

Open Rail Data

Staying on a transport theme here, Network Rail and National Rail Enquiries in the UK also make large amounts of data available to the public. The best place to start with accessing this data is the Open Rail Data Wiki. Here you’ll find summaries of the type of data available (such as timetable data, or real-time updates on delays and cancellations), as well as tips on which feeds are best to use in different situations.

tfl - open data api

Transport for London also have an Open Data portal to provide access to the data they  hold including: journey planning, timetables, route maps, and more. You can see more updates from the regularly updated TfL Digital Blog.

NASA Open Data

Unsurprisingly, NASA open data is really cool. One of their most popular sites is the Astronomy Picture of the Day, which they offer as a starting point in using their API. Go to their developer page to check out the range of live and static data NASA have made available including climate and asteroid data. To me the most exciting though is probably the BeXRB monitor data from some of NASA’s instruments.

nasa - open data api

Animal Migrations is an free, online database of animal tracking data made by pooling data from researchers across the world. You can explore their data by using their tracking data map. Access the movebank API.

movebank - open data api


The OECD aims to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. They collect and publish data across dozens of different areas: from taxes to pensions, and education systems to leisure time. The OECD API gives you access to some of their most popular datasets.


The United Nations also hold a huge amount of data from across the world: refugees, tourism, health, energy, food – plenty to get your teeth into. The UN data portal lets you browse the UN datasets, which you can access with the UN API.