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USA

Site Information Management System (SIMS) Project

Established in 1971, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) manages almost every aspect of the Connecticut outdoors. DEEP’s mission is to conserve and improve natural resources and the environment in order to protect public health, safety, and welfare while preserving and enhancing the quality of life for present and future generations.

DEEP enhances the quality of life in Connecticut through programs that enforce environmental laws and regulations. Several programs have made history by setting the national tone for environmental management. Connecticut’s Clean Water Act, enacted in 1967 was used as one of the models for the landmark Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. In 1982, Connecticut was the first state in the nation to open a materials recycling facility. Connecticut continues to set the national pace in wetland restoration with over 1,500 acres restored to date.

To make the best environmental decisions, DEEP staff needs to see a complete picture of regulated activities across program lines, and to understand ambient environmental conditions and what influences them. The limitations of their current systems inhibit the successful analysis and use of information to support increasingly complex planning and decision-making.

DEEP’s existing information systems have traditionally been created to serve program-specific, single-media regulatory requirements. This historical evolution of their information systems not only limits the ability to conduct holistic analyses but also reduces data quality and functionality. Many of the systems contain similar, overlapping or conflicting information. Nevertheless, they require separate data entry, query and analysis because they are not connected and do not “talk” to one another. Additionally, program staff continue to develop more stand-alone information management systems when central systems become either too difficult to access, navigate or retrieve data from, or fail to meet their individual operating needs. Since program systems were not developed with common standards or data definitions, it has made it difficult for DEEP to bring its various sources of information together to develop a cross-media perspective.

DEEP collects and maintains an enormous amount of information and data about the environment and the businesses and activities that affect it. This information rests in many different forms and locations (e.g. databases, diskettes, logbooks, spreadsheets, documents, central file room, office file cabinets, or individual desk drawers). To some extent, this vast store of information is wasted. Other business units that would benefit from information are not aware of its existence. In addition, the completeness, quality control, accuracy, and accessibility vary among the various information setups. As a result of the numerous forms and locations of information, and the significant data incompatibility, staff has neither all the right information nor the ability to access it quickly and easily.

Windsor Solutions engaged with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, to develop a large-scale, browser-based system to manage information about Sites and activities of environmental Interest in the State of Connecticut. 

The Site Information Management System (SIMS) was founded upon an integrated database containing data migrated periodically from a number of DEEP systems currently supporting program activities. Information initially included in this integrated database included site and client information for permits and applications, enforcement actions, and underground storage tank registrations. Future phases of this effort will incorporate data from other DEEP regulatory programs. A comprehensive Extract Transform & Load (ETL) Suite was developed, to ensure that data in the existing systems was properly migrated to the integrated database. SIMS consists of a number of different applications providing DEEP staff with the ability to:

  • Search for and reconcile likely duplicate sites and clients
  • Perform comprehensive inquiries and report on the results.
  • Represent site information geographically, using a web-based spatial viewer.
  • Manage and view documents related to a particular environmental interest.
Initial project tasks included a comprehensive planning effort, followed by the creation of a detailed design based on gathered requirements. An iterative approach was used for this project where a high-level design was produced and confirmed with DEEP stakeholders, prior to commencing the detailed design activities.  A similarly iterative approach was used for development tasks with two separate releases of the system being developed and deployed for user testing, prior to the final version being scheduled for implementation in the agency’s production environment.

The system was developed using HTML and Microsoft VB.Net, with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 as the data server. ESRI ArcIMS was used for the GIS capabilities, and IBM FileNet was used for Document Management services.

DEEP’s long term vision for the SIMS system is as an integrated replacement for the existing systems whose data is currently being migrated to it. With this in mind, DEEP contracted with Windsor to create of a number of additional SIMS applications that served as fully integrated replacements for existing systems, including application and permit management, compliance monitoring and enforcement, accounts receivable, and data exchanges with other environmental agencies with the Exchange Network.

The overall SIMS solution provides DEEP with several benefits:

  • A holistic, multi-media view of Agency environmental data
  • Integrated access to supporting documentation, through the use of Document Management
  • Integrated visibility to geospatial factors relating to sites, through the use of ESRI tools
  • A reduced data entry burden on Agency staff
  • A modern, flexible foundation for future integration of Agency data


Details

CLIENT: Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection
DISCIPLINES: Air, Land, Water, Health, Natural Resources, Cross-discipline
SERVICES:
PRODUCTS:

Interested in learning more?

Simon Watson

Contact Simon Watson
Windsor Solutions
(503) 675-7833 ext. 206
Email