Open APIs are Essential to Appraisal Districts and Tax Offices

September 11, 2020 | By: Jonathan Coco

I am often asked why an open API makes the True Prodigy software solutions so much better for clients. Let me explain the benefits in simple terms.

What are APIs and why are they important?

APIs, application programing interfaces, or webservices, as they are sometimes called, are quite commonplace in the software industry but for some reason, they are not commonly available in the property appraisal industry. In our industry, like other niche vertical markets, software vendors have been slow to build and utilize APIs and even slower to make them “open”. One of the key tenets of True Prodigy application development is utilizing and allowing Open APIs.

This architecture is important because APIs allow software applications to programmatically speak to one another. Open APIs allow programs to work together for the benefit of the users. “Closed” software systems are proprietary and are for the benefit of the software developer. “Closed” systems make clients more dependent on individual software developers. Open systems allow for more innovation. If you develop a software application that is open, then you are demonstrating a desire to ensure that your clients and the end users are able to get the most out of your software application by allowing it to work with other systems they use. Open APIs can allow for data integration, end to end process workflow and the incorporation and utilization of webservices.

Types of APIs

An inbound API or webservice will be utilized by a software application. They are published by 3rd party software vendors. An example of an inbound API is integration with Google Map API, Bing Map API, Zillow API, Eagle View (Pictometry) API, zip+4 and address correction API. These APIs have all been integrated into True Prodigy software.

An outbound API or webservice is something that a software application will publish to be utilized by  3rd party vendors. An example of an outbound API in Prodigy Appraisal is where we have exposed our Event Processing webservice to 3rd  parties that allow clients to “push” or “pull” data within our appraisal system.

Our open API

Over the the last two years, True Prodigy developed a completely new type of computer-aided mass appraisal system (CAMA) using cloud-computing technology and an open API. We are the first to provide an open API in the Property Appraisal Industry. True Prodigy is making  the API layer of our software available to other developers and our customers to facilitate the integration of the flow of information.  We are doing so on a case-by-case basis with external developers to ensure the API is properly documented and that the  correct API is used for the desired function.

The bottom line: Open APIs are good for everyone

This level of open interaction between software applications is a must for any modern system.  It fosters continual innovation. It also allows a client’s IT staff to import and process external information and use the office’s data in the CAMA engine without having to wait on the CAMA software vendor to implement features to address the individual integration needs of each unique client.

New feature autonomy is the nirvana that most appraisal districts and tax offices have been waiting for. No longer will Chief Appraisers and Tax Collectors rely on the CAMA software vendor to implement new features which might take years to develop.  With an open API, they have control over what features are added to the system by using their own staff.

An open API CAMA system is long overdue in the ad-valorem mass appraisal industry.  I am so pleased that the True Prodigy suite of products is the first software solution to deliver on this. The importance of this has been underscored by the quick adoption of our new system and the continued expansion of our client customer base.

If you’d like more information about what an open API software solution can do for your office, please contact me.

Jonathan Coco