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Florida Department of Environmental Protection Focuses on IT in Strategic Plan

Over the next few years, the agency will focus on increasing data literacy, developing tools to assist with data acquisition, migrating applications to the cloud and modernizing its application platform.

Within the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s long-range program plan for fiscal years 2024-2025 through 2028-2029 are detailed plans to implement several IT initiatives.

For context, the agency’s five-year plan looks to establish agency policies and priorities for the future based on a departmentwide evaluation of its services, activities and expenditures.

A few of the agency’s responsibilities include protecting, conserving and managing the state’s natural resources and enforcing the state’s environmental laws.

As for the department’s IT goals, the agency’s Office of Technology and Information Services (OTIS) will oversee the following initiatives over the next couple of years:
  • Data-focused initiatives: Primarily, this involves increasing data literacy and proficiency in using the department’s data visualization tool to help answer environmental questions and inform operations improvements; providing support to program-area staff focused on data integration initiatives and developing tools to streamline data acquisition. 
  • Application initiatives (program-focused): This set of initiatives focuses on implementing software to “improve permit processing, provide additional web-based self-service permitting options, collect environmental data more consistently and ... (expand) online services through the agency’s business portal.” 
  • Cloud migrations: So far, the department has migrated approximately 53 percent of its application portfolio to the cloud. OTIS plans to continue migrating to the cloud in the next few years to provide better built-in disaster recovery, scalability, cost savings, reliability and improved agility.
  • Application modernization: Currently, the department’s applications include older technologies such as Oracle Forms and Active Server Pages. As a result, the agency is assessing applications running on these apps to decommission, replace or rewrite them using a modern application platform.
  • Infrastructure modernization: Under this initiative, the agency plans to improve connectivity and IT infrastructure for on-site IT interfaces and point-of-sale services to better facilitate visitor interactions with the department’s parks.
  • Improved security: In addition to recent firewall improvements, focused security training for staff and implementing identity management, the agency also plans to implement additional security services and continue to adapt its security posture for the cloud. 

Last, as the coordinating agency for geographic information systems (GIS) and geospatial data, the department will oversee the following statewide initiatives: “the collection of statewide spatial data by coordinating with public and private partners to prioritize and align the needs to issues affecting the state; collaborate with statewide stakeholders in prioritizing and acquiring coastal imagery; identify key spatial data sets and make them available on the Statewide Geospatial Open Data Portal for public and interagency use; and increase interdepartmental participation in the Statewide Geospatial Open Data Portal so that publicly available data will be easier to locate and leverage.”

More information about the agency’s long-range plan can be found online.
Katya Diaz is an Orlando-based e.Republic staff writer. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.