Less than 2 months after we reached 1 million requests, our API usage has skyrocketed – propelling us to another 1 million requests for a total of 2 million.
The API, designed and developed over the course of a week in mid-March 2020, was intended as a free system to help others get crucial data on the spread of the Coronavirus. Updated every hour and using data from the incredible Johns Hopkins University in the United States, it has proven both popular and valuable to developers and end-users alike.
To help less tech-savvy people benefit from this data, we’ve also developed a WordPress plugin, which has seen over 5,000 downloads since its inception. It owes its popularity largely to the accurate dataset we provide, the ease-of-use that comes with the plugin, and the design philosophy behind it, namely allowing the end users to choose how the data will be finally displayed.
Being a free API, we asked our users to comply with some of our rules, specifically caching the data locally and not making too many requests to our services per hour so that we can limit our costs. Having been used over 2 million times, it is only natural that some users have inevitably or maliciously chosen to disregard our suggestions. Due to this, around 6% of users have been permanently banned from using our services – which, in our initial planning, is a surprisingly low figure. We’re very happy to see that over 1.7m people have been able to make requests to our API without issue, and continue to benefit from it.
To date, we’ve seen some incredible people and organisations use our service – from the European Council of Police Trade Unions (CESP), the Polish municipality of Kuczbork, and Civil Aviation Authorities of multiple African nations. Fetching the whole list of people that use our API takes over 30 minutes itself, and has many amazing names on it that we are proud to continue to serve.
We’ve also seen our data referenced and used on many news outlets, including in English, Russian, Arabic, French, and many more languages. With almost every nation in the world using our API in one way or another, there’s a very high chance that if you’ve seen some data regarding COVID, it came from us and Johns Hopkins University.
Totally free, even though it costs us a lot
Handling so many requests for millions of people racks up in server costs quite a lot. From the beginning, this API was meant to be free and accessible, but we could have never foreseen the popularity of the service. Because of this, we’ve opened up the opportunity for those that want to help contribute, to contribute. In addition to being able to suggest edits to the core code running on our servers, people can now donate to help us cover the running costs. We’re very thankful for any donations, big or small!