SEPA wins Connect ICT Innovate Award

date20 June 2013

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) gained recognition on Tuesday (18 June 2013) at the Connect ICT Awards for using innovative technology to deliver public services.

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SEPA won the Connect Innovate Award, at the ceremony held at the Glasgow Hilton, for employing rugged Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled tablet PCs to assist in a range of fieldwork activities.

The GPS-enabled tablet PCs are being used by SEPA when carrying out work to achieve the Scottish Government's target of improving 98% of Scotland's rivers to good condition by 2027, under the EU Water Framework Directive.

As part of this work SEPA has prioritised 103 river catchments in need of diffuse pollution remediation, and is carrying out a detailed assessment of issues along every kilometre of the river networks.  This process would normally have required SEPA staff to assess and record any non-compliant agricultural practices, and other details, on paper.

However a pilot scheme, undertaken by SEPA, found that the use of rugged tablet computers, with SigmaSeven's data collection software GeoField, could significantly increase the efficiency of this work, replace paper and improve data quality.

The fully automated digital system sends the captured field data to SEPA systems when staff return to the office where a web-based visualisation and reporting tool instantaneously reassembles the data for review. These audit findings are then auto-generated via letter or email.

The SEPA team involved in implementing the new technology was Jonathan Bowes, Susan Arnott and Colin Gray, and the successful project fought off tough competition at the Connect ICT Awards.

Dr Jonathan Bowes, Senior Specialist Scientist at SEPA said:

This cutting edge technology has enabled us to increase the efficiency of the ongoing fieldwork activities associated with the remediation of the 103 river catchments. Using the technology is beneficial for the environment as it removes paper from the field (and back-office), and speeds up the environmental improvement cycle through faster engagement with landowners. Our small team is elated to receive this award in recognition of this achievement.

"In the past, the data would have had to be organised and entered manually into SEPA's central database which is an extremely time consuming process.  However, the rugged tablet PCs have made this process much simpler by syncing to SEPA's network when staff return to base and automatically downloading all the data into our database.

"To polish it off we have developed a slick, instantaneous web-based reporting tool to review and interrogate any field data, automatically generate farmer feedback letters based on the farm assessment, and print or email the findings to the farmer.  This fully automated digital system offers SEPA an 85% resource saving for each farm assessment completed."

James Curran, Chief Executive of SEPA said:

We would like to congratulate the SEPA team on this well deserved achievement. By taking an innovative approach to carrying out these fieldwork activities SEPA is continuing to lead the way in utilising new technology to increase efficiency and benefit the environment."

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