short term have been able to transition from their own data centers to the cloud with excellent results (Cockcroft 2011). EPA has recognized the opportunity presented by cloud computing and has begun to embark on a process of transition for many services to a private EPA cloud (Lee and Eason 2010).
Throughout EPA, and especially in the regions and the technical offices, applications and databases are the responsibility of regions and offices, but the Office of Technology Operations and Planning (in the Office of Environmental Information) provides the infrastructure, platform, and support from datacenters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; Arlington, Virginia; Chicago, Illinois; and Denver, Colorado. Thus, it is natural for EPA scientific computing to move to PaaS and IaaS cloud operation, and it has begun to do so. Done carefully, this will also permit some applications to be moved to the public cloud as economics requires. Given the trajectory of costs and budgets, that is inevitable, and it is important that EPA continue on this path, ensuring that new science applications are designed for private cloud implementation and for later portability to the public cloud.
Dramatic improvement in the performance of data transmission in both wide-area and local wireless networks is driving enormous growth in mobile devices and applications. With many government agencies upgrading infrastructure under pressure to use more effectively the underused radiofrequency spectrum over which they have control, that growth will continue for the foreseeable future. Combined with new-generation real-time sensors, the wireless network has a profound effect on collection of and access to environmental information but it also changes expectations about the user experience. Furthermore, designing for mobile devices has different constraints and freedoms from building Web applications for a desktop environment. The techniques will be important as EPA works to engage and gain support from the public. It will be important for EPA to master the skills of spectrum-sharing and efficient use of bandwidth.
With centralized data centers, strong data-quality standards, and highly organized exchanges, EPA is executing well in IT and has adapted to changing technology while continuing to support its original charter to protect the environment and human health. However, a persistent challenge in such fields such as computational toxicology is the integration of available data from many sources. In particular, many investigators who generate large datasets may not have the knowledge and experience in informatics to integrate and interpret the data successfully. In the future, adopting a systems-thinking approach will result in a mixture of data from a variety of sources, including the atmosphere, soil, water, and foods; data will be related to genetics and health outcomes; and they