Dear Exchange Network Friends and Partners,
As Co-Chairs of the Exchange Network Leadership Council (ENLC), we are excited to share an update on the state of the Exchange Network. In 2012, Network Partners reached an important milestone in the ongoing expansion of the Exchange Network. Four years ago, the ENLC set an ambitious 2012 goal to complete Phase 1 of the Network by fully implementing Exchange Network data flows for ten EPA National Systems. In 2009, senior leaders from States and EPA reaffirmed this goal and their collective commitment to the Exchange Network partnership. Since that time, Network Partners have put in tremendous efforts to achieve our goal. The Exchange Network has been working closely with EPA’s Program Offices and the Office of Environmental Information to eliminate duplicate reporting pathways and to ensure that Network data flows are ready to use. New tools such as the Exchange Network Services Center are helping more Partners participate in Network data flows. States, Tribes, Territories, and other Partners have worked diligently to switch to the Exchange Network as their primary means of sharing environmental data with EPA.
Thanks to these collective efforts, the Exchange Network is now the sole means of electronically flowing data for eight of the ten Phase 1 National System Data Flows! These flows include Facility Identification, Beach Notification, the Water Quality Exchange (WQX), the Emissions Inventory System (EIS), the Air Quality System (AQS), ICIS-NPDES, Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), and Underground Injection Controls (UIC).
The remaining Phase 1 National Systems—the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) and RCRAInfo—also have Exchange Network data flows available; however, they will continue to operate alongside other non-Exchange Network pathways in the near-term. The SDWIS user community is planning to modernize that data system in 2014. The ENLC encourages Partners to continue their current submission practices until that modernization effort is concluded, rather than force a change now and risk rework in two years’ time. In the meantime, the ENLC will be working closely with the EPA Office of Water to ensure that the modernized SDWIS takes full advantage of the Exchange Network’s data exchange capabilities. In the case of RCRAInfo, there are factors that limit the value of an Exchange Network data flow for some Partners. Most significantly, RCRAInfo has an exceptionally large number of direct users that do not need a solution for automated data submissions. Instead, many Partners will benefit from outbound data flows that give program managers easier access to their data. The ENLC looks forward to working with the RCRAInfo community to build data access solutions that will improve environmental program management and decision-making.
Network staff members are updating the Data Flow Implementation Guides for each flow. The Guides will offer Partners a detailed summary of the available options for flowing data along with updated implementation advice so Partners can more easily plan their development efforts. We will distribute an Exchange Network Alert when the updated Guides are posted to the Network website in early 2013. The ENLC will continue to work with EPA Program Offices and Regions to ensure that programmatic grant guidance includes clear expectations on use of the Exchange Network to report and share data for each of the ten Phase 1 data flows.
Otherwise, Phase 1 is now officially complete. As many of our Partners know, we have been tracking our progress in an implementation matrix, which we have shared with you throughout the years. It brings us great pleasure to share the final version of the matrix, which shows the readiness of eight National System data flows. The matrix is available at: http://www.exchangenetwork.net/about/network-management/#phase1
While we will no longer routinely produce this matrix, we anticipate that it will grow increasingly green in the coming weeks as Partners migrate to information exchange tools powered by the Network.
The end of Phase 1 hardly means that our work is done. We have established a rock-solid foundation, but we have only just begun to scratch the surface of what is possible. The Network’s approach to information sharing opens the door for us to build new tools and capabilities that enable people to find, integrate, and use data in ways that were not previously possible. The next phase of our growth will look beyond database synchronization and seek out opportunities to expand data access to improve our nation’s ability to understand, manage, and protect human health and the environment.
The ENLC is developing an implementation plan for Phase 2 of the Exchange Network. We will share the draft plan with the entire Network community in early 2013. We welcome your input and comments on our proposed activities. The Phase 2 Implementation Plan will be a living document that will reflect comments from the Network community and evolving Partner priorities. For example, States and EPA are beginning to discuss a new initiative called e-Enterprise for the Environment, which is geared toward automating electronic data collection and environmental monitoring. The Exchange Network is committed to aligning its Phase 2 work with the e-Enterprise initiative and to providing it with a technical platform and an existing partnership from which to build. We hope to complete the initial Phase 2 Plan in time for review at the March 2013 meeting of the Environmental Council of the States. We look forward to working with all Network Partners over the next few months to collectively define Phase 2.
In reflecting on the progress of the last four years, we both are incredibly impressed by the amount of effort that Partners have invested in the Exchange Network. What we have collectively built is a testament to your hard work and the value of the Exchange Network. We very much look forward to our continued partnership in 2013 and beyond.
State Co-Chair of the Exchange Network Leadership Council
Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
EPA Co-Chair of the Exchange Network Leadership Council
U.S. EPA Office of Environmental Information