The Environment Agency (EA) is the largest organisation within DEFRA, and is responsible for a variety of environmental issues in Great Britain including flood management, and air, land and water quality.
In 2013, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) was established with a view to become the authority on Welsh environmental matters.
Natural Resources Wales was due to be created, however it was clear that data collected by NRW would be of interest to EA, and vice versa. The division of responsibility would result in numerous issues and questions raised due to the shared border and the prevalence of common projects and environments. For example, if waterways feeding the River Severn in Wales increase in volume, this has the ability to flood major urban areas in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. An environmental problem with its beginnings in Wales (under NRW jurisdiction), could easily have consequences in England (under EA jurisdiction).
The hugely important sharing of data between the two organisations was complicated by NRW’s decision not to replicate EA systems, focussing instead on cloud-based technology. This meant that data could not be shared in proprietary formats.
EA needed a robust and scalable solution that would be flexible enough to adapt in-line with changing requirements.
The two organisations mutually agreed to use XML and XSD as the standard formats for the data transfer.
EA already had FME, and decided to reuse this to create a process which:
• Extracted new/changed data from the database and created an XML to XSD schema.
• Uploaded data to cloud-based storage.
• Downloaded and validated the incoming data against the agreed XSD schema.
• Loaded the data into their database.