Using the Exchange Network, States, Territories, Tribes, universities, not-for-profit organizations, and others can share data with EPA and other Network Partners securely via the Internet. Here’s how it works:
Through trading partner agreements, Partners define how they will use the Exchange Network. An agreement will clearly state the kind of data the Partners will share, how frequently they will share it, and in what format it will appear.
After Partners decide what data they will exchange and with whom, each sets up a computer dedicated to sharing data over the Exchange Network. Depending on a Partner's needs, we call this computer a "node" or "node client."
With a node client, Partners can send, receive, and request environmental data over the Network. A node does the same thing, but with the added benefits of automated data delivery and the ability to monitor requests from other nodes.
The choice between node and node client depends on whether your organization needs automated monitoring of data requests. While a node gives you that ability, a node client offers a "lightweight" way for you to connect with Exchange Network Partners.
A major problem environmental agencies face is system incompatibility that slows down the data exchange. We fix that by using Extensible Markup Language or XML.
XML is just a data format. It's the common format nodes use to "talk" to one another. Since all data shared on the Network uses XML, all Partners' data structures are compatible. It's through XML that we standardize all data shared on the Network.
It's also what makes the Exchange Network so powerful.
Once Partners connect to the Network, they're ready to share data. Every Partner has a Network node or node client, and they all communicate through XML. These defining characteristics of our Network are what make it easy for Partners to exchange of information.
Thanks to the Exchange Network, environmental agencies are turning what was once a tedious exercise–data exchange–into an automatic one.