Getting Started with the Construct API: Making Your First Request

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 8.37.31 AMHundreds of government agencies across the United States and the world are using Accela Automation to streamline and manage their operations.  With the Construct API, Accela is changing the game by enabling developers a way to connect to these agencies providing Land ManagementLicensing & Case ManagementAsset Management, Legislative Management, and Public Health and Safety services to their citizens.  We are seeing incredible creativity and innovation from developers as they extend and create new solutions on the Accela Platform.

Getting started with the Construct API is easy!  In this post we will take you through the steps to make your first request using the Construct API and get you on your way to developing the next great civic app!  If you are new to APIs no problem, check out this post before you get started: Free Guide to Learning Web APIs.

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Building the Civic Technology Ecosystem

One of the most important challenges facing the civic technology community is getting governments to embrace the new solutions and services being developed by civic hackers and smart, agile firms with big ideas for making government work better.

The open data movement has helped create an ecosystem for apps that make consuming and using government open data quick and convenient. There are hundreds of third party apps for transit riders that take advantage of open data, as well as an ever growing array of apps for adopting fire hydrants, assessing the status of vacant properties, evaluate the quality of schools, locating a good parking spot and finding retailers that accept SNAP benefits.

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Announcing the Accela App Challenge

At Accela, we’re committed to finding ways to leverage the talents and ideas of civic entrepreneurs and open data hackers to benefit the governments we serve. That’s why we’re excited to announce the Accela App Challenge.

The App Challenge offers a total of $25,000 in cash prizes to developers that build a new civic app or enhance an existing one to work with Accela Construct API and utilize open data. The grand prize winners will be flown to San Diego to have their idea showcased to governments officials from all over the country at our annual Accela Engage Conference.

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From Open Data to Useful Analytics in 5 Minutes with CivicData

In a recent post (Getting Started with the CivicData API) Mark showed us how CivicData, built on the open source  CKAN platform, provides powerful and easy to use SQL APIs to interact with data.

In this example I’ll use the CivicData SQL API to request and aggregate data from an open dataset, Atlanta Permit Activity March 2014, and display it in a simple pie chart using a single client side html file without any need for any server side processing.

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Behind the API: Introduction to the Accela Automation Data Model

Government agencies across the United States and around the world select Accela Automation as their system of choice for their Land Management, Licensing & Case Management and Asset Management operations.

One of the key reasons these governments choose Accela is versatility.  Accela is one of the few platforms with a public sector focus that has the flexibility to serve the enterprise.  The key factor behind the flexibility and power of the Accela system is its data model.

This is the first in a series of posts that will introduce you to the Accela data model as it applies to the Construct API.

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Introduction to Accela CivicID

Accela is working to enhance the civic technology ecosystem by creating tools and platforms that developers can use to build new apps and services that change the way governments and citizens interact. One of these powerful components is a new authentication service called CivicID.


CivicID is an OAuth 2.0 service that has been set up specifically to support civic apps. If you’re building a civic application that will require users to log in or create a profile, CivicID is for you. By using CivicID, developers will benefit from leveraging Accela’s technical community and will have the ability to integrate data from multiple government agencies into their apps.

This post will walk through the process of using CivicID to authenticate a user and provide a concrete example using Node.js. All of the sample code used in the screencast below can be found on GitHub, and new examples in different programming languages will be provided in the coming weeks. Additional information on the CivicID authentication process can be found on the Accela Developer Portal.

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Under the Hood: the Accela Construct API

Accela is revolutionizing how civic technology drives changes to the way that governments and citizens interact.

Starting a revolution

Accela enables civic developers and other technology partners to build on top of and interact with the systems that our government customers use to conduct a variety of core functions – permitting, licensing, land management, etc. Civic developers can leverage the Construct API and a suite of related tools to build services and applications that will revolutionize how citizens interact with their government.

This post will provide a high level overview of how the Accela Civic Cloud Platform works, and will be followed by more detailed posts introducing developers to other key concepts for building the next great civic app.

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Free Guide to Learning Web APIs

Accela’s Construct API and the APIs available through provide a powerful set of tools for application developers to build sophisticated civic applications.


If you want to get started with the Construct or CiviData APIs, but don’t yet feel comfortable working with web-based APIs, take a look at this great free course on APIs from Zapier.

This great resource will take you from “API zero to superhero” in no time, and is a great way to get started using REST APIs like those provided by Accela. After you finish this course, head on over to the Accela Developer Center and set up a new account.

You’ll be ready and on your way to creating the next great civic app.

Getting Started with the CivicData API

This is the first in a series of posts that will provide an introduction and overview of the platform. is the new open data platform that is available for any government to use to publish open data. Built on the best of breed, open source CKAN platform, provides powerful APIs and other tools that can be used to work with data and build valuable civic applications.

In this brief example, I’ll use the SQL API and NYC bike share data to create a simple list of the longest bike share trips from July of 2013.

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