Australian Electoral Commission develops public-facing APIs

AEC is the first federal agency to create an ExpressRoute connection to Microsoft Azure AU Central regions

Australian Electoral Commission House of Representatives 2016 federal election night ballots
Australian Electoral Commission (CC BY 3.0)

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has revealed details of its use of Microsoft Azure to develop and manage its first suite of public-facing APIs, which also marked the first time a federal agency created an ExpressRoute connection to the Azure AU Central regions.

The APIs were used during the May 2019 federal election, delivering a range of data and services, such as information feeds to broadcasters, news services, social media and search engines.

Other services delivered by the AEC allowed people to check their enrolment through a mobile app, a sevice with a list of polling places, and geographic data on electoral boundaries that could be employed by media organisations to render maps for use while covering the election.

“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 participate,” AEC chief information officer David Lang said in a statement.

“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 CIO said.

“Azure API Management provided a turn-key solution for the AEC, in which the heavy lifting associated with API hosting infrastructure was managed by the Microsoft Azure platform, which allowed the AEC to focus on developing great APIs for our consumers.”

During the election, AEC provided a lightweight feed of real-time election results developed for those offering their own election services. In

AEC has also created an ExpressRoute connection to the Azure AU Central regions. The Canberra-based Azure regions were certified for use with classified government data in April 2018.

The AEC mirrored its mission critical election night systems in Azure cloud to ensure that the real-time feed of results to the public and broadcast media partners were not disrupted. The agency partnered with Veritec for the project.

The commission is currently working on a new self-service platform that will handle processes such as political party nominations and funding disclosures as well as an external portal for the public to post complaints, enquiries and feedback. However, it could not reveal which technology vendors it is working with for the projects.

The next big move for the AEC will be to refresh its fleet of around 90 legacy systems, some of which have been in use since the 1990s.

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