Practical Implementation Advice
- If Partners already have an EN node or client, they should automate Beach Notification submissions.
- Agencies with responsibility for the Beach Notification flow that do not have an EN node or client should consider partnering with agencies or other organizations that do have a node—or they can implement currently available free node technology themselves.
- Partners can use the EN Services Center.
Beach Notification Data Flow Options
The figure presents the current options for flowing beach notification data. Exchange Network (EN) flow options are shown in green. There are no non-EN options.
Summary of Current Practice
All beach notification data is currently reported in XML format regardless of whether users use the Exchange Network or not. Although a few Partners have automated this flow through their nodes, most have not. Because beach notification submissions are required only once a year, the incentive to automate this flow is currently low. There is, however, high demand for beach closure information from the public, which may provide a powerful incentive to make data available to nodes and enable widespread automation of this data flow.
Many Partners responsible for beach notifications do not have a node or the node is administered by another agency. These, and other, Partners currently using the CDX Web application can now use the EN Services Center to flow data.
Beach Notification Flow Status and Milestones
This Table presents institutional responsibilities and target completion dates for each activity.
|Solutions for all Partners||
Develop and deploy EN Services Center for use by eBEACHES Partners
Outreach to legacy application user community
EN/CDX demo Service Center to eBEACHES State Partners
Test with a few State Beach Staff
Train legacy State users
Test submissions by States
Flow 2012 beach season data
Identify and evaluate further enhancements
|Access to transaction status||On Track||Develop transaction messaging||EN staff||Q2 2012|
|Accessible and stable flow documentation||Complete|
|Specifications for Data Access Services||On Track||Modernize eBEACHES; currently developing requirements, cost, and schedules for Phase 2||OW||Q2 2012|
|Clear path to eliminate alternatives||On Track||100% of eligible users are using EN Services Center||EN staff with input from OW||Q2 2013|
Node: A Partner’s point of presence on the EN consisting of a server (hardware and software) enabled with web services that allow Partners to automatically provide and receive information via the Network and to publish data for use by other Partners.
Node Client: A stand-alone application (i.e., software code) that lets Partners share data, request data, and receive results from an EN request. Clients differ from nodes in that they cannot respond to queries from other nodes and so cannot publish data. Clients also need more manual (rather than automated) steps, for example, to extract data and generate and review reports before submission.
EN Services Center: A website that allows Partners to easily send, get, and download information from other Partners. The Services Center will serve as a replacement for manual submissions of information through CDX Web. It is an appropriate solution for those Partners who do not require or are not yet ready for the automation and data publishing capabilities of an EN Node. The EN Services Center is available at https://enservices.epa.gov.
CDX: EPA’s Central Data Exchange. It serves as EPA’s centralized electronic report receiving system. It receives data from Partners and directs the data to EPA’s program-specific National Systems (e.g., AQS, WQX, etc.).
CDX Node: CDX Node is EPA’s node on the Network, allowing EPA to receive, send, and provide information via the Network. CDX Node can also publish EPA data for use by other Partners.
CDX Web (non-EN) Application: A legacy CDX application that receives data (flat file or XML format) via standard web browsers. CDX Web applications are not consistent with EN protocols (e.g., they have a separate authentication and authorization service from the EN) and typically involve more manual steps than a node-to-node exchange of data.
Data Access Services: Using web services to make data available to Partners by querying nodes and returning environmental data in the form of XML documents. Published data can be accessed using a node or clients. Published data can be used in a number of ways, such as populating Web pages, synchronizing data between sites, viewing data in a Web service client, or building new sources of data into an integrated application.
Direct User: A Partner entering data directly into a National Data System through a system-specific interface (manual entry).
EPA National Data System: Program-specific data systems at EPA that can receive and publish data..
Local Data System: A Partner’s database or series of databases in which environmental data are stored, managed, and manipulated.
XML: eXtensible Markup Language is a flexible language for creating common information formats and sharing both the format and content of data over the Internet and elsewhere. The electronic language that expresses and transports data standards and transaction sets. XML uses an extensible set of tags to describe the meaning of data.
National System Flow “Ready-to-Use” Criteria
A focus of Governance has been developing the National System Flows to help Partners take advantage of the Network’s business value. Governance has identified six criteria for each flow to meet to make these flows “ready to use,” they are:
- Automation-ready flows. Support fully automated node-to-node flows.
- Solutions for all Partners. Provide appropriately scaled solutions for Partners of all sizes, needs, and capabilities. Some Partners such as Tribes and local clean air authorities may not need a fully functional node, therefore, other solutions should be available.
- Access to transaction status. Support a fully automated process for reporting transaction status, processing results, and QA results from receipt by CDX through final processing in the National System.
- Accessible and stable flow documentation. Develop and make accessible stable documentation that describes all flow requirements. This includes a complete Flow Configuration Document (FCD) that is in compliance with EN procedures for version management.
- Specifications for Data Access Services. Provide a national standard set of query/solicit services defined in the FCD whether or not data are currently published. Implement a publishing interface where published data are critical to partner business processes (such as NPDES permit information for NetDMR).
- Clear path to eliminate alternatives. Have a clear path to eliminate legacy system alternatives to data exchanges, including transition support for Partners.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
kramer.bill [at] epa.gov