Environmental Assessment Office
EPIC & the Environmental Assessment Office System Modernization Project
History & Background
Under the Environmental Assessment Act, the BC Environmental Assessment Office must facilitate public access to information and records relating to environmental assessments. Since 2002, those records have been made available online via the Environmental Assessment Office's website in the EAO Electronic Project Information Centre (e-PIC).
In the 15 years that followed, the EAO's business requirements have changed in order to meet increasing expectations for transparent and rigorous environmental assessments; but e-PIC, the digital tool to support those assessments, remained unchanged and grew increasingly outdated. So in 2014, in response to those current business requirements, the Office initiated the EAO Systems Modernization Project (ESM).
Along with addressing the EAO's expanding needs, the business case for ESM was designed to align with both the transformation vision of the BC Natural Resource Sector (NRS) and, more broadly, government's plan for transforming services to the citizens of British Columbia as articulated in Where Ideas Work, the BC Public Service's Corporate Plan.
The goals of the ESM project were to:
- address expanding business needs;
- deploy new tools and technologies to better meet the needs of citizens; and
- improve the efficiency and transparency of the environmental assessment process.
The result of the ESM project is an updated online tool known as "EPIC" – the EAO Project Information & Collaboration System – which was released as a public test or "beta" on February 2, 2017.
EPIC represents the BC Government's first production application built using agile product development methodologies. The principles and practices associated with the agile approach are rooted in innovation, and create a dynamic environment that emphasizes creative and adaptive teamwork. Agile focusses on the creation of cross-functional teams, the elimination of unnecessary waste, and limiting work processes to support the development of solutions to complex problems.
EPIC also applied DevOps approaches and culture, with a modern tech stack on top of the Office of the Chief Information Officer's Openshift platform. EPIC exemplifies the BC Public Service's commitment to use modern tools and technology, with a focus on identifying user needs to determine design requirements, to provide more convenient, accessible and reliable services to the citizens of British Columbia. This approach is set out in more detail in the Where Ideas Work Corporate Plan, which is available online at http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/careers/forms-tools/all-employees/corporate_plan_where_ideas_work.pdf.
Features & Benefits
EPIC provides Aboriginal groups, stakeholders and the public with enhanced access to information and the ability to participate in the environmental assessment process.
Some of the new tools and features you can expect to see in EPIC include:
- Improved search and sort functionality to make finding and viewing information about projects simpler and easier;
- A mapping interface that provides links to project information across the province; and
- An enhanced public commenting feature, providing transparent, near-real-time access to, and categorization of, comments received during public comment periods.
EPIC sets the groundwork to continuously improve and, as necessary, expand the tools, processes and capabilities that support Environmental Assessment Office staff and project proponents in undertaking environmental assessments.
The Environmental Assessment Office is committed to a model of continuous improvement, which is the reason that EPIC was initially released as a public "beta" – that is, as a fully-functional starting point from which to grow and expand based on user feedback, analytics and research.
Opportunities to Provide Feedback
Going forward, the Environmental Assessment Office will continue to seek feedback from all users – Aboriginal groups, the public, stakeholders, project proponents and staff – regarding how to enhance EPIC's functionality and usability to better meet their needs.
To provide feedback about EPIC, please send the Environmental Assessment Office an e-mail at email@example.com.