EPA ACRES Agile Software Development with AWS

The Challenge

More than 450,000 brownfields blight the United States. These idle areas of land, contaminated with the hazardous materials or pollutants from their former industrial activity, need to be treated and restored to protect the environment and the health of those living nearby, as well as to enable the land to be used once again. Cleaning up and reinvesting in brownfields increases the local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressure off undeveloped land, and both improves and protects the environment. Returning properties to beneficial uses, such as parks, new homes, offices, and commercial areas is a nationwide issue, the economic benefits of which impacts large cities and small towns alike.

To track brownfields and the efforts to clean them up, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization (OBLR) operates and maintains the Assessment, Cleanup and Redevelopment Exchange System (ACRES). ACRES is an online database for Brownfields Cooperative Agreement Recipients (CARs) to electronically submit data directly to EPA.

The ACRES database is one of many databases that collect information related to the assessment, cleanup, and reuse of brownfields. Within EPA, the Compass Data Warehouse (CDW) and other systems contain information related to Brownfields cooperative agreements, including information on grant funding. In addition, several Regions maintain small systems to capture activity. Outside of EPA, State and Tribal Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) information systems, as well as local information management systems, contain brownfields information. Other Federal agencies maintain information of interest to brownfields projects on ACRES as well.

Solution with AWS

LinTech Global, Inc. provides professional support to maintain the ACRES database; develop new components that accommodate emerging data visualization and reporting requirements; and improves tools for Regional staff to track, plan, and demonstrate evidence of progress towards performance goals. This includes the collection and management of information for the Brownfields Program, as well as making the data more accessible to OBLR, National and Regional stakeholders, and the public. LinTech also researches, analyzes, recommends, and documents strategies, technologies, and procedures to accomplish the EPA’s data sharing objectives. In addition, LinTech researches, analyzes, recommends, designs, implements, and documents strategies, technologies, and procedures to accomplish database expansion and integration as ACRES grows and evolves to meet EPA needs.

LinTech uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) to host the EPA ACRES development/test application servers and databases. LinTech leverages Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Amazon’s Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) to provide an ACRES development and test environments at low cost to OBLR. The EC2 test environment mirror OBLR’s ACRES production application and enables LinTech to quickly release application code for OBLR to review without a lengthy deployment process.

We use the EC2 instances to host ColdFusion and Java/Tomcat application servers along with an instance with an Oracle XE database server for development.  All servers are assigned elastic IP addresses through AWS. ACRES also uses AWS’s RDS database hosting technology to set up temporary database instances for data analysis. To support other business intelligence applications, ACRES provides a monthly database dump to EPA partners, and those dumps are hosted and shared through AWS S3 storage solution buckets. LinTech is responsible for all server setup, maintenance, and security/patching for the AWS ACRES environments. We are also planning to use the AWS Beanstalk to nimbly deploy applications supporting EPA ACRES.

Overall, the use of AWS has enabled us to provide EPA a 60% cost savings over the previous method using local hosting, resulting in significant annual savings of taxpayer dollars.

Benefits of Using AWS

• Provides flexibility compared to an internal data center.

• Enables us to develop and deploy new functionalities in less time.

• Helps meets EPA’s needs at a lower cost, saving taxpayer money.

• Achieved a 60% cost savings over the previous method of local hosting.

About LinTech Global, Inc.

LinTech Global, Inc. provides Enterprise IT Infrastructure Support, Agile and DevOps, Financial Management, Cybersecurity and Virtualization, Cloud Services, and Health IT support to federal agencies.

Founded in 2007, LinTech is a small business that is ISO 9001, ISO 27001 certified and CMMI DEV and SVC Level 3 appraised. Our clients include the Army, Navy, USAF, DHA, FAA, DSCA, DCMA, DCAA, DoD OIG, VA, CSOSA, and EPA. Our contract vehicles include GSA STARS 2, Schedule 70, MOBIS, FAA eFAST, Seaport-e

On several of our contracts, LinTech leverages AWS for our development and testing functions, for analysis, and to host environments used by our federal clients and stakeholders throughout the United States. Using AWS enables us to spin up new environments quickly, confidently, and securely at a low cost to the Government.