Tag Archive for: EDD

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Almost everyone has run into Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) and Electronic Data Deliverables (EDDs) when managing and reporting environmental data. And almost everyone hates them. So, what do these things have in common? They should all be the same, yet they are all different with a wide range of variations.   

For EDDs, every data system (Federal, State and Commercial) requires a different format for data submittal. Some want you to manually fill in an online form, some want a CSV file in a specific format, and some want XML files, also in various formats. Analytical laboratories have to produce and maintain a wide range of formats from their LIMs systems to meet the demands of the different receiving systems, and commercial data systems have to produce a wide range of exports to go to various agencies. Even agencies like the EPA don’t have a single uniform regulatory export format for all the various regions. And basically, this is all the very same analytical laboratory data, just delivered in multiple formats, all of which require configuration and maintenance by dedicated IT professionals.  

Many EDDs are submitted as a single flat file (one row equates to one record), but the number of columns and different data rules. However, state-specific formats can have other more complicated formats. One prime example is California’s Electronic Deliverable Format (EDF) which can require 3 or 5 files that contain various information parsed out into different record sets. The records in the different files can have one-to-many or many-to-many relationships.   

DMRs are another area of constant challenge and frustration. The EPA tried to provide a uniform submittal process with NetDMR, but it failed to work when individual states or local cities were the responsible agency vs the EPA. So not only are there format submittal variations, but there is also a wide variation in how DMR parameter limits are calculated and reported. Yes, receiving waters will vary by location and concerns for the constituents of the discharge, but it would be a huge step forward to have a set of consistent rules to apply to all DMRs.   

The lack of uniform parameter codes is also another source of frustration. Most commercial data systems and laboratory LIMS systems rely on the uniform Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers to identify a parameter. These codes are used worldwide and commonly accepted. DMRs typically require the more obscure STORET codes (see example below) used by older EPA data systems

StoretCodes-DMR-EDD

For all these reasons, DMRs and EDDs are much disliked by anyone managing environmental data for a living. Both processes would benefit from a uniform set of standards and a historical data update to streamline data management and reporting for all parties. However, just as with cars, Locus knows how to help you manage your EDDs and DMRs, just as a mechanic can fix different auto makes/models. 

 

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    2022 has given us a wealth of new features and growth! Both of our platforms have undergone improvements to enhance our client’s user experience. Let’s look at all the new features for 2022.

    Environmental Information Management (EIM)

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    1. New Site Metrics dashboard allows immediate visibility into your data with clickable mapping. This is especially powerful for customers with multiple sites where they want to keep track of site activity and usage. [/sc_icon_with_text]

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    2. Finding data can sometimes be overwhelming especially when you have hundreds, if not thousands, of locations and numerous analytical parameters to review. Locus added advanced database search tools to support multiple search terms and ‘exact match’ searches, making it easy to find exactly what you want with a couple of key words and a click. Never has finding the right results from large complex datasets been so easy. [/sc_icon_with_text]

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    3. Locus has enhanced its API functionality to enable easier integration with external BI tools, including Tableau, PowerBI, and other apps. Now, customers that rely on external business analytical tools will have quick and easy access to data to combine with other internal data sources. [/sc_icon_with_text]

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    4. Locus document management has been taken to the next level by allowing customers to link documents from any external library directly into their sites, monitoring locations, samples, and more.  This means with a simple click, users can go to lab reports, regulatory reports, and any other current or historical document associated with the site.  If you are using SharePoint, for example, to manage documents – they can be accessed directly from Locus software.  Document access and security will be preserved by existing document library access controls. [/sc_icon_with_text]

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    5. 2022 was the year of “help”.  In addition to the advanced search, Locus added a new Help Browser to provide access to comprehensive documentation for every feature of the software.  It is similar to the familiar site map, only the links take you to help content.  With this new feature, users can view help in a single location vs having to access the information on each individual screen.  For new users, or infrequent users, this will be their new favorite feature. [/sc_icon_with_text]

    EHS & ESG Solutions

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    1. Locus’ Survey/Questionnaire tool enables you to securely & easily obtain data globally without the burdens of training or maintaining user lists. The survey system effortlessly supports data entry from external organizations (such as suppliers) or even occasional users internal to your organization, with a simple link click. [/sc_icon_with_text]

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    2. Locus released a new pivot table tool that enables you to perform full data analysis on any query in the system.  Data may be grouped and organized by any value. Output options include bar charts, heatmaps, tables, area charts, scatter charts, and tree maps. In support of the output options, Locus has improved the ability for users to create dashboards more easily. [/sc_icon_with_text]

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    3. Complex inspection and audit forms require branching, sophisticated, scoring, and automated responses.  Locus added new question types to its inspection/ audit module, including conditional questions based on responses to one or more previous questions. Locus augmented the scoring calculation mechanism and automated creation and tracking of corrective action. [/sc_icon_with_text]

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    4. In today’s world, users need access to environmental data on the go.  Locus augmented its mobile offerings to include configurable layouts for mobile users, with compact forms specially designed for smartphone and tablet access.   [/sc_icon_with_text]

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    5. Today’s managers want immediate access to the data they need. Locus new Landing Page feature makes it simple to configure the dashboards, bookmarks, and record lists. This enables the user to review just the areas they need to see and navigate efficiently to complete the work.  [/sc_icon_with_text]

    Contact us to see a demo of Locus software and get a quote

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      Locus Environmental Information Management (EIM) is the leading cloud-based application for managing and reporting environmental data. EIM allows users to gain control and insights into any analytical data, automate laboratory and field data collection, and ditch the patchwork of paper forms, spreadsheets, and disjointed databases for a centralized system. We have highlighted 5 key usability features that allow users to get the most out of their investment.

      Locus Usability - Easy Searches

      Easy Searching

      Throughout EIM, users have many opportunities to create search criteria, then pull up the records that match their data filters. A recent addition to EIM has been well received as it is a game-changer for simplicity. Located to the right of the main menu is a search box. Type in the name of a parameter, then click the resulting View Parameter link. You will see all the relevant information on the parameter, including parameter type, whether it is an aggregate parameter or not, site assignment, molecular weight, toxicity equivalence factor, and so forth. Click the View Matching Field Sample Results link, and you will see all the lab results that are stored in EIM for your selected site and analyte. If the parameter is a field measurement, you will see all applicable field measurements. If a parameter can be either a field measurement or lab analyte, you will see both field readings and laboratory results for the parameter.

      Suppose your entry in the search box is a sampling location rather than the name of a parameter. In that case, you will see matching field measurements, sample collection data, analytical results, and groundwater readings for the indicated location.

      Locus Usability - Rolling Upgrades

      Rolling Upgrades

      Think of the frustration your users or administrators may have experienced graduating from Windows XP to Windows 7 and 8 then 10. We guarantee this will not be repeated with our suite of products. Our Software has no version numbers. Rolling upgrades (included in License) are performed for brief periods during non-standard working hours. These updates will not hide or bury existing features. Over time, the interface may change to take advantage of new tools, but this will be done in a measured manner to improve the user experience. What we strive for is to never have a formerly working function break. If you have a recent vintage browser, you should have access to all functionality that comes with our Software both before and after a release.

      In line with this advantage of our products, Locus is not dependent on maintaining links to other software packages. This is not the case for some of our competitors who rely on links to third-party packages to perform data validation, plotting, and reporting.

      Locus Usability - User Empowerment

      User Empowerment

      Almost all of the tasks that are required to manage our products can be done by our customers. This includes adding new users, permissions, and roles; new valid values; new action limits and screening criteria; new custom reports; editing or deleting groups of records; adding new tables to audit; and creating new EDD formats. The few tasks that Locus must be involved include rollbacks of the database, adding new custom fields and data checks, and developing new functionalities.

      Customers who adopt EIM typically replace a series of spreadsheets that have grown more unwieldy by the year or a homegrown database built with a lower-end product like Access. The keepers or administrators of these spreadsheets and homegrown databases are sometimes concerned about losing access and control. There is no doubt that a cloud-based system that multiple clients access must have rigid controls in place to assure data integrity and completeness. Still, we go to great lengths to accommodate “power users,” allowing them to run their SQL statements in our Custom Query module. This tool is widely used and appreciated by users who formerly managed in-house databases at DOE facilities, large water utilities, environmental consultancies, and leading oil and chemical companies. Finally, and most importantly, Locus is a partner with our customers; if you are not successful with EIM, no one “wins.”

      Locus Usability - User Interface

      Interface Consistency and Simplicity: EIM Grids

      The basic grid that EIM uses to display data is pervasive throughout the system, appearing in multiple places under each of the Setup, Field, Input, Analysis, Reporting, and Visualization main menu options. This grid is mighty. With it, you can filter on individual columns by clicking on a list of values below the column header. You can also sort the values in any column by clicking on an up or down arrow in the column header. You can choose to display 10–1000 records at a time. Other features include an advanced search option, the ability to reorder/select/deselect columns, and the opportunity to export the data displayed in the grid using any of the following export types – CSV, Delimited, Excel, PDF, KMZ, Shapefile, or XML – or you can copy the dataset to your clipboard. The power and ease of use of this grid, coupled with its presence throughout EIM, make the system easy to learn and use for users of all ability levels.

      The usability of the grid is taken to a new level in several places in EIM, where you pull up a set of analytical records that meet the selection criteria that you have specified. When you then click on the map icon in the bottom left corner of the grid, EIM takes you directly to Locus’ GIS module, where the results pulled up on the grid are displayed on a map of your site next to their sampling locations.

      Locus Usability - Save and Reuse Work

      Saving and Reusing Your Work

      While you can often get to the data you need in EIM in a few steps, this is not always the case. Your selection criteria may be complicated, involving multiple fields and entries in the database. Most grids have a default set of fields that are displayed in a predetermined order. You may prefer to reorder these, include additional fields, or remove some of the default selections. If you need a highly formatted instead of a simple tabular report that does not yet exist in EIM, you will need to spend more time inputting the specifications for the report. How can you minimize your effort? You can do so by naming and then saving your selections for repeated use at later times. When you do so, you must tell EIM whether these saved inputs are for private or public use. This feature of EIM saves time, reduces keystrokes, and prevents mistakes (get it right once, then reuse as needed). And, enhances user adoption as power users can create and share the reports their users need most often.

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      Let’s look back on the most exciting new features and changes made in EIM, Locus’ environmental data management software, during 2020!

      Locus EIM Devices

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      1. Expanded EIM API

      Locus expanded the EIM application programming interface (API) to support running any EIM Expert Query. Using a drag and drop interface, an EIM user can create an Expert Query to construct a custom SQL query that returns data from any EIM data table. The user can then call the Expert Query through the API from a web browser or any application that can consume a REST API. The API returns the results in JSON format for download or use in another program. EIM power users will find the expanded API extremely useful for generating custom data reports and for bringing EIM data into other applications.[/sc_icon_with_text]

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      2. Enhanced EIM Search Bar Functionality

      Locus enhanced the usefulness of the EIM search box located at the top right of EIM. A user can now search for a location, field sample, or parameter, and choose from quick links showing any found data records plus related field measurements, groundwater levels, or analytical results. The search box also supports searches across EIM help files. These improvements, along with the existing ability to search for EIM menu items or functions, greatly increase the search bar’s usefulness and make it much easier for users to find what they need. In 2021, Locus plans on further expanding the search bar to allow for generating charts or maps for entered locations or parameters.[/sc_icon_with_text]

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      3. Multisite Support for EIM GIS+

      The EIM GIS+ package brings the power of geographical information systems (GIS) to EIM. In 2020, Locus added multisite support for the GIS+. A user can generate a map showing locations and related results for more than one EIM site at a time. This GIS+ improvement supports cross-site queries and maps, which help greatly with analysis across a portfolio of sites in EIM.[/sc_icon_with_text]

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      4. Support for Sample Planning Notifications

      Locus rolled a new EIM feature in 2020 to support automated email notifications for sample planning events. Users can subscribe to notifications for unreported analysis groups, parameters, or samples; late and upcoming samples; and compliance samples at risk of being late. Each notification can be tailored for specific plans, events, and tasks, and are set to run for specific time window. With these new notification types, users gain more control over their sample planning and are better notified about potential issues. The new sample planning notifications are available in Water EIM but can be deployed to other customer EIM instances on request.[/sc_icon_with_text]

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      5. Continued Water EIM Reporting Support

      EIM is the world’s leading water quality management software used since 1999 by many Fortune 500 companies, water utilities, and the US Government. Locus continues to support water utility customers in EIM through multiple updates done to EIM reporting and analysis. From enhanced support for chlorine field data, to incorporating the latest reporting requirements for the Consumer Confidence Report, Locus continues to expand Water EIM functionality while accounting for variable practices that exist among water utility operators.[/sc_icon_with_text]

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      6. Improved Analytical Views

      Locus continues to upgrade and improve the EIM interface and user experience. In 2020, Locus overhauled the Analytical Views pages in EIM, which support data exports for analytical results as well as laboratory QC samples and results. Multiple EIM menu items were combined into one page that supports all analytical data views. Users are directed through a series of filter selections that culminate in a grid of results. The new page improves usability and provides one centralized place for these data reports.[/sc_icon_with_text]

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      7. Enhanced FTP EDD Loader Abilities

      One of the more powerful modules in EIM is the FTP EDD loader, which lets laboratory users upload multiple analytical EDD files for different sites to a Locus FTP server for batch processing. Lab users do not have to login to EIM to upload each EDD individually. In 2020, Locus augmented this function to support non-analytical EDDs and to accept EDDs from non-lab users. With these changes, any EIM user can upload to the FTP site any number of EDD files in any format for multiple sites. Users may still need to login to EIM to resolve any EDD errors. Interested EIM users should contact Locus to get the needed FTP site credentials.[/sc_icon_with_text]

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      8. Expanded DMR Support

      Locus continues to enhance the Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) module in EIM. In 2020, Locus implemented calculations needed to handle reporting of divalent metals. Locus also added the Florida DEP ezDMR format. Locus continues to add more formats so customers can meet their reporting requirements.[/sc_icon_with_text]

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      9. Improved Parameter Management

      Locus added two new features in EIM to improve support for managing analytical parameters. First, EIM now allows for storing parameter names in the local language and using these translated names in EIM Enhanced Formatted Reports. This function helps non-English customers create reports customized for local users. Second, EIM can handle alternate parameter codes. These ‘aliases’ for the primary parameter code, used in tracking reports and in EDD uploads, ensure that labs are not flagged or penalized for using a parameter code that is synonymous with the expected EIM parameter code.[/sc_icon_with_text]

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      10. Improved Unit Conversions

      Locus enhanced the unit conversion functions in EIM in 2020; these functions are used to convert laboratory analytical results to a consistent set of reporting units. EIM now allows for conversion factors that are parameter specific. Second, EIM now lets users define molecular weight multipliers for use in unit conversions that require molecular weight calculations. Both these changes give users more control and transparency over unit conversions in EIM.[/sc_icon_with_text]

      Contact us to see a demo of Locus EIM and get a quote

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        For over 20 years, Locus environmental software customers have saved enormously on their setup and and data entry costs. This infographic highlights the aggregate savings of all users based on conservative estimates of time and cost for different aspects related to our software.

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        Contact us today to discuss how you can save with Locus

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