AEC builds public-facing APIs to serve up election data

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AEC builds public-facing APIs to serve up election data

Using Microsoft Azure.

The Australian Electoral Commission developed and managed its first public-facing APIs using Microsoft Azure last year to serve data and services to third-parties during the federal election.

AEC chief information officer David Lang revealed the cloud-based API project in a Microsoft blog post on Tuesday.

It comes as the agency prepares to embark on a once-in-a-generation overhaul of the country’s electoral systems to ensure system integrity and protect against cyber-attacks.

Lang said the APIs were used to deliver a consumable feed of information such as election results to broadcasters, news services, social media and search engines in real-time.

“The more channels that our data can be exposed through in a controlled way the better, because that means we’re increasing the number of people that are participating in the election or what we would call extending the franchise, opening up election services to more and more people who are entitled to participated,” he said.

Lang said that by leveraging Microsoft’s “turn-key solution” Azure API Management for API hosting, the AEC was able to “focus on developing great APIs for our consumers”.

As part of the project, the AEC also became the first federal government agency to create an ExpressRoute connection to link its on-premises networks to Microsoft’s public cloud regions in Canberra.

“As an organisation, one of the key fundamentals of publishing an API to the outside world is making sure that you can manage the way that API is being used, that you can secure it effectively, that you have a central point of control and reporting, and that you can also publish really high quality documentation for the developers that are going to be consuming that API.

The AEC also conducted a proof of concept cloud project with Canberra-based Microsoft partner Veritec to mirror its mission critical systems that run on election night in Azure.

Microsoft said that this was done to ensure that the real-time feed of election results that were being served via APIs and other channels were not disrupted. 

The AEC is now working to develop a self-service platform for political party nominations and funding disclosures, as well an portal for the public to post complaints and other feedback.

The agency's election systems modernisation program, which is yet to begin, will see more than 90 highly customised applications replaced in time for the 2025 election.

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