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The Danish Environmental Portal takes a big step into the future with its new data model in Azure

Globeteam has helped The Danish Environmental Portal to build a modern data model in Microsoft Azure. The effect of the new platform will be felt in faster workflows, improved data quality and a more solid decision-making foundation for the many stakeholders that use environmental data to develop politics and adopt new legislation, among other things.

It is fair to say that the old platform was outdated, with its ancient databases and programming language, continuous system proliferation and other obvious risk factors. The Danish Environmental Portal is a common public partnership owned by the state, the municipalities and the regions. Its objective is to support the digital nature and environment administration in Denmark and coordinate climate adjustments through actions such as ring-fencing areas of farmland and protecting groundwater.

The Danish Environmental Portal launched the VanDa programme in order to modernise the digitisation of this area with monitoring and analysis of the surface water environment. The programme is made up of several elements that are carried out in different phases. Until now, historical data from six, old, industry-specific systems, dating all the way back to the 1900s, have been collected and stored in the Surface Water Database (ODA) under the University of Aarhus. With the VanDa programme, data in the ODA platform has been migrated into a completely new, common, industry-specific system that builds on modern architecture principles by using standard Microsoft Azure components.

Automated flows and improved quality assurance

Throughout the data project, The Danish Environmental Portal has received help from Globeteam’s IT architecture experts with the task of migrating data from the ODA platform and building the requested data model in Azure. Nils Høgsted, Head of Secretariat, expects to be able to reap large benefits with this more robust and future-proof IT support.

First of all, The Danish Environmental Protection Agency will have the opportunity to work with data in a more automated way, as well as also being able to perform quality assurance of their data more easily. This will, in turn, provide the foundation for a better and faster decision-making process within the political system; when indicating pesticide-free areas, for instance, or creating water plans, agricultural packages and rules for waste water discharge.”

Secondly, it also provides companies, citizens, anglers, landowners, farmers and other stakeholders with more possibilities to work with the data we make available. For example, we now show data in a far more uniform way than we did previously,” Nils Høgsted says.

As a concrete example of the double gain in establishing automated data flows with a higher in-built quality assurance, the VanDa programme has digitalised all laboratory analyses of water samples. So, rather than samples being sent back and forth between scientists and a lab, all of which takes a few weeks; workflows are now all digitised and system supported, which shortens the overall process significantly and ensures a more robust validation of data.

A future-proof data model in Azure

By eventually shutting down the six old databases and the ODA platform and by developing VanDa and other new databases according to standard Azure principles, The Danish Environmental Portal expects the number of support cases they need to manage will be reduced. As a result, their overall IT maintenance costs will therefore be reduced in the future. In addition, VanDa is built on an event-based architecture in Azure, so the platform has been made ready to scale up to thousands of transactions per second.

It is not something that will happen overnight, but it will become important when we have to support IoT units, machine learning or other new technologies in the future. That is the kind of flexibility you get when you use Microsoft’s standard components. It provides you with the option to upgrade or change something in the solution very quickly,” Nils Høgsted says.

Extensive Azure expertise

In working on the VanDa project, the Globeteam consultants needed to thoroughly immerse themselves in a complex professional area, before they could build the right data model in Microsoft Azure. A task that has been completed to great satisfaction.

Globeteam’s consultants have been very good at managing the project and dealing with the development task in Azure. Compared to other consultants I have worked with, I think Globeteam solved the task twice as fast, because they know Microsoft Cloud so well. They have delivered to a very high standard throughout the project,” he ends by saying.

Challenge

Old database technology, different data principles and manual workflows made the management of environmental data in The Danish Environmental Portal difficult.

Solution

Globeteam helped The Danish Environmental Portal build a new data model in Microsoft Azure based on standard technology; and made it ready for future developments such as IoT and machine learning.

Result

The Danish Environmental Portal’s many stakeholders will have more possibilities to work with environmental data themselves, and they will have faster and easier access to that data. They will also have a more solid decision-making foundation, because the data validation in the new cloud architecture is more robust.


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