About the author: Molly O’Neill is EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information and Chief Information Officer.
I just made that up… is it catchy? My friends and family are always catching me making up new words. Last week, my blog entry described the National Dialogue for Access to Environmental Information and I have been busy listening to several groups of stakeholders. We had a media related focus group who described both their frustrations working with EPA on tight deadlines, as well as what types of information they look for on a frequent basis. To this group, one of the most important access vehicles is finding the right expert at EPA quickly. We need to work on this and this group gave suggestions on how we might address this issue. Thanks!
I also attended the Exchange Network National Meeting and invited these participants to not only join in the Dialogue, but also to listen and learn with us. The National Environmental Information Exchange Network (Exchange Network) is a partnership between states, tribes, and EPA that exchanges environmental data securely over the Internet using web services. I like to think of it as an environmental information superhighway where these partners can exchange data more easily and more often because they are not bound by format. Not surprisingly, this partnership came together because of information access and sharing challenges. Building this Exchange Network is important because it is putting information in the hands of federal, state, and tribal regulators more quickly than ever. While the Exchange Network is still growing and maturing, this community is finding great uses of available data.
One of my favorite examples of this is where the Washington Department of Ecology is exchanging their data with not only other state environmental agencies, but also with the Washington Department of Health. Health scientists and officials can more easily determine if metals found in fish tissue samples might relate to health issues reported in specific areas of the state.
I look forward to hearing more thoughts on the future applications of the Exchange Network to improve access to broader audiences. For those reading this blog, I invite you to submit your comments on how we might enhance access to environmental information on our National Dialogue web site.