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CARMA API Widgets


In the next several months, we’ll be rolling out several widgets that take full advantage of CARMA’s Application Programming Interface.

A widget is a little chunk of code that people can place on their own blog or website. For example, this widget can grab RSS feeds. Some other widgets are more interactive, such as this weather widget allowing users to search by zip code. CARMA’s emissions data can be presented and explored in similar ways.

The CARMA website, especially with the Dig Deeper tool, allows the user to sift through vast amounts of power plant information. Plants, companies and locations can be filtered and sorted by power and emissions over multiple points in time, and maps present an intuitive display to compliment the raw data.

With all this information in the CARMA database, it’s no wonder that some connections were left untouched. We just couldn’t add too much information to the website without overwhelming the casual visitor. If you have unanswered questions after viewing the CARMA site, then chances are that the API might be worth looking into.

With the CARMA API, you can create a widget to powerfully repackage CARMA’s data. For example:
1. Display future emissions of planned power plants by location.
2. Display trends in emissions and carbon intensity for specific plants, companies, or geographic regions.
3. Look up the carbon intensity of power providers by zip code in the U.S.

You can also mashup data from CARMA and other sources:
1. Use the carbon intensity of individual power companies to calculate carbon footprints for individual users.
2. Mash up CARMA’s emissions data with campaign contribution data for congressional districts.
3. Mash up CARMA’s power company emissions data with financial information.

Keep in mind that many plants are assigned geographic coordinates, so creating visually-appealing map widgets is also possible.

Calling the API is relatively simple, and it returns data in XML format. Let’s say that you wanted to get the raw data for the state of California. You can simply browse to http://carma.org/api/1.0/searchLocations?name=California. To build a widget, you could make multiple API calls and even mash it up with external data sources (like Yahoo! finance).

We created the API so anyone can download the raw data and use it to form their own connections. Forum One will be creating several widgets to showcase the great potential of the API. We think these example widgets will help users at CARMA.org (or any other site or blog!) customize CARMA’s vast database and maximize its role in creating a cleaner, greener future.

But the real excitement comes from how you interpret and display the data — and the API provides free reign and infinite possibilities.

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