Pollution Prevention Goes on the Road

Florida environmental agency invests in mobile database applications to help inspectors protect natural resources.

Sybase Inc.s mobile database is helping south Florida keep its environment clean.

The Broward County Department of Planning and Environmental Protection uses a mobile module powered by a Sybase SQL Anywhere database, said Jeffrey Halsey, director of pollution prevention and environmental licensing management for the department, based in Fort Lauderdale.

Roger Kehl, senior product manager for Sybases iAnywhere solutions, said Broward County uses the SQL Anywhere Studio products ASA (Adaptive Server Anywhere) version as the brains for its Posse work management system for e-government and e-business. Computronix Technologies Ltd., of Edmonton, Alberta, a Sybase partner, produces the Posse remote module in use by the South Florida inspectors.

SQL Anywhere Studio is a product of iAnywhere Solutions Inc., a Dublin, Calif., Sybase subsidiary.

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The Broward County Department of Planning and Environmental Protection, comprising more than 50 field inspectors using the Posse mobile application, conducts mobile field inspections for hazardous materials, storage tanks (above and below ground, storing such things as fuel), solid waste and other substances, to name a few. The department monitors groundwater quality because 95 percent of Floridas drinking water comes from groundwater. Halsey said Broward Countys water-quality monitoring program is considered a leader in the United States, as it relates to monitoring underground storage tanks. Other municipalities look to Broward as setting the standard for implementing their own programs, he said.

The Posse mobile module, known as Posse Remote, leverages SQL Anywhere for field staff such as inspectors, code and bylaw enforcement officers, case workers, and mobile service and work crews. The Posse Remote module is normally run on ruggedized handheld computers—including laptops and tablets—designed for all-weather fieldwork.

SQL Anywhere Studio features MobiLink, a synchronization server that handles the sync process using scripts that direct what actions you want to take, Kehl said. MobiLink offers bidirectional exchange of information between remote ASA databases and a variety of enterprise data sources, including Oracle Corp.s database, Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server and IBMs DB2, he said.

"The replication is custom. The central database is Oracle, and weve built a change-detection mechanism into our data-update model," said Jim den Otter, CEO of Computronix, which built the core system for the county. "Technically, we have two methods for synchronization. Broward uses the old method, requiring the client application on the handheld to actually connect directly to the central database as well as the local ASA database. The new method uses Web services through SOAP [Simple Object Access Protocol] calls.

"In the Broward instance, our application connects to both the ASA and Oracle databases," den Otter said. "In the ASA database, we have a change flag on our object table. To replicate, we select all changed objects and assemble a synchronization package containing all of the details for each changed object, then update these to a staging area in the central database. We wait for the central database to accept and apply the changes, then download any new items for the handheld. All updates to the ASA database are made through stored procedure calls in order to ensure that existing rows are updated and new ones are inserted."

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