The role of APIs in the ITS and MaaS sector

What are the APIs?

The Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are tools that facilitate the cross-utilization of the platform capabilities, allowing third parties to integrate and connect their systems for data exchange. Essential for the integration of different applications and services, APIs play a key role in the implementation of omnichannel strategies, enabling seamless integration with external services. They allow the provision of more integrated, functional and cost-effective solutions, thereby creating added value for the end user. Through APIs, the experience of using services is greatly improved, making it more personalized, engaging and satisfying.

But how can we better understand what APIs are and what they enable, while not having a technical background? To understand it in a more intuitive way, we propose the following metaphors, showing how they facilitate communication and interaction between different applications and systems in an increasingly connected world.

  1. Digital Librarian. Think of APIs as a digital librarian. When you look for a book, instead of searching among thousands on the shelves, you ask the librarian. He goes and finds exactly what you are looking for and gives it to you. In the digital scenario, if your app requires specific data, the API retrieves it for you from the “big digital shelf” that is the database.
  2. Universal translator. Imagine APIs as a universal translator that helps two people speaking different languages communicate with each other. If you have an application (one person) that wants to “talk” to another system (another person) which uses a different “language” (unique data formats, protocols, etc.), the API translates requests and responses between them so that they can work together harmoniously.
  3. Home Delivery for Data. APIs act as a home delivery service for data. If you want to order food from a restaurant, you probably use an app that allows you to choose the dishes. The app communicates your order to the restaurant via a “data delivery” (the API), which ensures that your food arrives warm and on time to you. Similarly, if your app needs data such as weather forecasts or train schedules, the API “delivers” this information from the source to your device.
  4. Personal Assistant. APIs can be seen as digital personal assistants. Just as you might ask your assistant to book a flight or table at a restaurant, apps use APIs to “ask for” services or data from other systems. The API takes care of arranging the transaction, ensuring that your request is met without you having to worry about the complicated details behind the scenes.


The rise of APIs

The digital transformation has modernized the IT sector towards the so-called “API economy”. This term refers to the set of practices and business models that emerge from the use and marketing of APIs. APIs allow software applications to communicate with each other, facilitating data and functionality exchange across different services and platforms. In a “API Economy” context, companies leverage APIs to create new business opportunities, improve operational efficiency, stimulate innovation, and collaborate more effectively with external partners and developers. This economic model allows organizations to expand their service offering, access new markets, and generate additional revenue through the monetization of their APIs. Also thanks to the APIs, new innovative business models have been introduced, including the one known as “SaaS” (Software as a Service). This paradigm allows to license the use of software solutions paying only the actual use, eliminating the need for complex installations and specific maintenance on dedicated servers while ensuring flexibility and scalability for both suppliers and customers. 

APIs, increasingly crucial in business communication and customer outreach through advanced technology solutions, serve as a foundation for contemporary software development. They offer a standardized interface that facilitates the creation and management of new applications and services, promoting interoperability and modularity. In other words, they allow developers to use and combine various features, data and services. This has generated a rapid proliferation of new services, often innovative, given that they are based on the combination of contributions of several companies also very different from each other.

The exponential use of APIs, with growth exceeding 1,000% per year according to Harvard Business Review, has created a diverse ecosystem, in which companies use APIs for multiple purposes, from improving operational efficiency, to the promotion of innovation and entry into new markets.

It is therefore clear the importance of exposing available data and services via documented APIs, allowing the system to be open according to the most modern canons of “layer vision” technology, ensuring immediate scalability and ability to adapt to the natural technological evolution of an increasingly rapid digitization process, the result of a growing technological confidence of end users.



OpenMove NUCLEUS plays a central role in orchestrating operations and data management between the different modules of the OpenMove platform, ensuring high standards of reliability and security. It is a back end application specifically developed to manage and process significant volumes of data in real time. Created with the aim of integrating also with existing information systems, OpenMove NUCLEUS acts as a data and service collector, proving to be a crucial pillar in the development of cutting-edge and interoperable ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) solutions.

A key attribute of OpenMove NUCLEUS are the features of High Availability (HA) that ensure horizontal scalability and the ability to manage load peaks through automations, eliminating unique failure points and improving diagnosis and response to anomalies. In addition, it facilitates the updating of components with minimal impact on operations, ensuring a transparent and uninterrupted increase in resources.

The API layer provided by OpenMove NUCLEUS consists of documented and public restful APIs with a sandbox environment.

The REST APIs offered by the central system represent a set of rules and procedures for creating and managing communication between web services. These establish various endpoints (URLs) to send HTTP requests to (such as GET, POST, PUT, or DELETE), allowing interactions with server resources. Responses to these requests contain data in JSON or XML formats that can be processed by the client. Being based on the REST architecture, they operate in a stateless way, that is, they require that every request from the client contains all the information necessary to be able to answer, without the server maintaining a state between the requests.

APIs are documented according to the OpenAPI standard (also known as Swagger), a description language that provides a complete specification of resources, endpoints, parameters, data types and operations supported by an application. The provision of detailed information about web services greatly simplifies the process of using APIs by developers: the documentation can be used to automatically generate SDK clients, automated testing and API simulation, examples of requests and responses, requested authentication, frequency limits. 

A sandbox API is also available, which is an environment where you can test the capabilities of your production environment and simulate responses from API calls. The sandbox API essentially allows you to do probative testing but at the same time reduce the costs and risks associated with third-party API calls during testing.


The dual perspective: technical and business 

OpenMove NUCLEUS API was born to follow the best practices from a technical point of view, thus adhering to the new standards of the IT industry. In line with the principles of the MACH architecture (if you are curious, we will talk about it in a future blog article), we have worked to ensure that the frontend user experience is Headless, i.e. completely decoupled from the backend logic, allowing complete freedom in terms of designing and creating the user interface as well as connecting to other channels and devices. 

Then we also realized the business potential of APIs as a tool that can extend business channels and increase business by sharing data, functionality and services in a controlled way through the exposure of public APIs open for use by third parties. We always suggest customers and partners to take a look at to see the modularity, robustness and inherent openness of our mobility platform.

Today, in fact, large mobility transformation projects, where the value chain has a plurality of stakeholders, include the integration of a variety of ITS systems. However, most of the time it is the integration points to present critical issues and unknowns, with consequent devastating impacts on quality, implementation timing, project costs and evolutionary maintenance, that involve a great investment in terms of effort and resources. Having a layer of public APIs is therefore increasingly a fundamental element in ITS and MaaS systems to ensure a quality solution with advanced features, delivery certainty and transparency, with reliable costs and delivery, and a long life cycle.

In other words, any IT system in the transport ecosystem can no longer afford to be a monolithic system, completely independent and detached from other systems. It is no longer even conceivable to carry out expensive ad hoc integrations; the API route is a mandatory stage to achieve today the challenging goals of tomorrow’s mobility.

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