What did I learn from APIs?

Sometimes finding data stories when you don’t understand how to use the tools  can feel like you are watching a popular programme but in a different language. Take the Fresh Prince for example, everyone loves watching it. But if it was broadcast in the UK in French I doubt the appeal would be as great.


Fresh prince in French? Picture courtesy of flicker creative commons

So as part of my Pass the Baton of Knowledge on series I decided to look at APIs.
APIs was an interesting and hard task to master. It involves coding as well as other complex bits of data that takes some time to learn. However the output is powerful!

Lesson 1:Dont run before you can walk –As with all data ensure you start with something manageable, start easy with the example given in this blog and than progress from there onto more complex stories.

Lesson 2: Explore- Look for new data sets, I was amazed at the amount of APIs you can find, there is a vast amount of data sources so explore what is out there.

Lesson 3: Have fun-Too be honest at first I found this very difficult, but after re-reading my notes and other data sources I was able to post a step by step guide for all my Data Queen fans.

Thanks for reading!


Application Programme Interface (APIs) How to?

As part of my series on passing on the baton of knowledge, I will be looking at API, which stands for Application Programming Interface.

It is a way a website or service can allow integration of its content into other websites.

News organizations can develop APIs so their content can be customized with additional information at other web sites. It’s one more way for a news organization to participate in and make its content available to a larger online network.

See for example:

As part of the City journalism MA we have been learning how to use APIs with data journalist Paul Bradshaw.

Today I am going to show you how to use APIs using Google refine:

USING GOOGLE REFINE (don’t close the black box, and open using Chrome or Firefox without any other applications running)

We created a simple excel doc with 3 postcodes, and downloaded it into Google refine


Quotation Marks


+value, a command without the quotation marks

Need another plus before remaining string, +.json


Click OK


Edit Json

Go to OJ blog



Add [“geo”]


What’s changed in Json? Focused on geo branch

Add Lat


Copy expressions, call it latitude, click ok


do longitude now




You are able to combine this with the Police API data and find out even more information, such as crimes in a specific location.