One of the big frustrations in using computing to solve large, multidisciplinary challenges is managing data sets from different disciplines. Often, you have to go to each individual site and download the entire dataset. Then you have to parse out the subset of data fields you want within the geographies, spatial resolutions and time periods you care about. It is still the case that a few groups provide their data in the form of an Application Programmer Interface (API), where the data are served in a structured form with clear metadata documentation. Data can be sliced and diced how you like, selecting subsets of geography, time, and variables of interest. Once you sign up and obtain an API key, it just takes a few lines of code in Python or R to establish a connection and query at will!

GEMS has been building out a portfolio of APIs since 2021 across a range of useful datasets seeking to span the full Genetics x Environment x Management x Socioeconomic data landscape. Those who tried GEMS Exchange before will know that we used to have a middle layer managed by RapidAPI. Users found that cumbersome and confusing, so we are now using our own Apache APISIX server within our own web pages to serve you your key and monitor usage. We’re confident that your experience will be super easy this time around. Let’s get you started!

First, check out which APIs might interest you at our GEMS Exchange page. To obtain your API key simply click here. (Note you will need to have a account, which is free – or you can connect via your academic institution, Google account, or ORCID). Once you know which APIs interest you, explore our collection of Jupyter notebooks in Github that give you practical guidance on how to use them. Many of the APIs we offer use the GEMS Grid which help ensure they are interoperable. And the GEMS Grid itself has recently been made open source, so you can place your own data sets on the Grid and interoperate with the community.

We are always happy to hear of useful datasets that could be added to the GEMS gridded collection in Exchange, so by all means reach out with suggestions or queries here.