EPA easing flow of data

The Environmental Protection Agency has launched an initiative to improve

the flow of information among federal and state agencies that collect environmental

data and the organizations that provide it.

EPA has made its own environmental data more accessible to the public

through such projects as EnviroFacts, a vast store of information on air

quality, water quality, drinking water safety and other data.

But states, as well as private-sector organizations, also manage a wealth

of data. The Information Integration Initiative (I3) is aimed at providing

secure venues through which that information might be shared.

I3 recognizes that "the states are just as much partners with us in

this effort" as they are beneficiaries, said Emma McNamara, director of

the Information Access Division in EPA's Office of Information Analysis

and Access. McNamara spoke Tuesday at the Government CIO Summit in Savannah,

Ga.

EPA intends to build a series of environmental databases or products

that federal and state agencies will help populate.

I3 should make it easier for people across the country and at different

levels of government to find the information they need, according to the

agency.

EPA also expects that the improved flow of information will lead to

more accurate data. People searching environmental records online will be

able to send a message if they find a discrepancy and even track the resolution

of that problem, McNamara said.

The agency plans to undertake a series of small projects before tackling

larger goals. Early projects include:

* Development of a facilities registry, which will include core records

about more than 50,000 facilities being monitored.

* Test of a central receiving system, which will serve as a one-stop

data interchange for information coming from various sources.

* Creation of a geospatial data server, which will serve as the repository

for a wide variety of data sets that are tied to maps, including EnviroFacts

and hydrographic and elevation data sets.

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