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Delivering data for environmental protection


Colin Gray explains how the Scottish Environment


Protection Agency used an informatics hub to integrate its data and move towards an evidence-based approach


T


he Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) generates and collects millions of data points each year. Data


plays a fundamental role in allowing SEPA to performing its environmental duty, in improving efficiency, and in moving to an evidence-based approach, while improving interactions with stakeholders. Integrating all the Agency’s data into a single platform that allows it to be interpreted and used effectively provided its own challenge for the organisation. It is a challenge that has been successfully met. SEPA collects data covering the full range


of business areas including environmental, regulatory and business planning. Hydrological data such as river flows and rainfall; sampling data from chemistry, ecology, and microbiology; compliance and regulatory data from licensing; and finally business data such as planning, resources, budgets, and projects; are just a few examples of what we deal with. With such a large volume, diverse range, and cost of collecting this data, we must ensure the data is of high quality, and that we make best use of it.


Getting the right tools During the last decade, SEPA’s Environmental and Spatial Informatics Unit (ESIU) has


10 SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING WORLD @scwmagazine l www.scientific-computing.com


The new informatics hub has increased the confidence of the Agency’s staff in their environmental data


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