Electronic Chain of Custody (COC) in Environmental Data Management using the LSPECS upgrade for ESdat

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Courtesy of Esdat Environmental Data Software

Summary

As electronic information can be easily altered, a chain of custody ensures that the data presented is 'as originally acquired' and has not been tampered with during the copying process or during analysis. When using ESdat Environmental Data Management System, all data is tracked and backed up electronically; there is no scope for transcription errors or loss of paper based records. Electronically integrated data means more effective tracking, analysis, reporting, and less time wastage. The LSPECS extension for ESdat is used for Lab Sample Planning, electronic Chain of Custody and Signoff. LSPECS, in combination with the tablet-based PLog Environmental for electronic field data collection, provides a complete data tracking and management system. Preparation, implementation, validation and reporting stages of field programs are centralized. Electronic storage of program information reduces the potential for error.

ESdat is a specialist environmental database system. It is used to validate, import, analyze and report a broad spectrum of Environmental Data as Exceedance Tables, Graphs, Maps, statistics and more.

ESdat allows for efficient importing from a range of systems or data sources into a central environmental database, provides data comparison and analysis, comprehensive reporting, and integration with other software. The system also performs QA analysis and has automatic data validation checks. ESdat creates a robust, end-to-end environmental, groundwater and contaminated site data management system. The software increases productivity and reduces transcript errors.

The LSPECS extension for ESdat is used for Lab Sample Planning, electronic Chain of Custody and Signoff.

LSPECS is web-based, robust, updatable software that allows program managers to design, delegate and manage field programs from a single interface, thereby increasing efficiency, and reducing management/administration time (and therefore reducing cost).

LSPECS has been developed as an extension of ESdat and integrates seamlessly with ESdat, providing complete control of field program planning, implementation review and analysis of results. It can be hosted internally by users, or as Software as Service (SAS).

LSPECS, in combination with the tablet-based PLog Environmental for electronic field data collection, provides a complete data tracking and management system. Preparation, implementation, validation and reporting stages of field programs are centralized. Electronic storage of program information reduces the potential for error.

LSPECS represents a step-change in field sampling program communication and administration at all stages.

Chain of Custody

Chain of Custody is a process used to maintain and document the chronological history of the handling of electronic information. As electronic information can be easily altered, a chain of custody ensures that the data presented is 'as originally acquired' and has not been tampered with during the copying process or during analysis. If a chain of custody cannot be accurately shown, it is hard to prove that the data has not been influenced.

Submitting laboratory requests has traditionally been a paper-based operation. This has led to problems in managing large volumes of laboratory data, including:

• There is often no backup of these notes if they get lost or waterlogged.

• Paper is difficult to use in adverse weather conditions.

• Typographic errors during laboratory sample receipt are common.

• Correction of typographic errors is time consuming for the lab, and their clients.

• Reconciling laboratory results against QA samples from the field notebook is often a bottleneck.

• No automated way to identify inconsistencies between the request and the lab data delivered.

When using ESdat Environmental Data Management System, all data is tracked and backed up electronically; there is no scope for transcription errors or loss of paper based records. Electronically integrated data means more effective tracking, analysis, reporting, and less time wastage. ESdat will work equally well without electronic collection of field data (i.e. paper-based field notes and COC); however, why double handle data when you get back to the office? When using LSPECS for post field laboratory submissions once sampling is complete, laboratory analysis is selected though LSPECS and an electronic chain of custody generated, referencing any required project-specific laboratory quote.

eCoC files (electronic chain of custody) and LSPECS

The eCoC (electronic chain of custody) files are generated by LSPECS and sent to the Laboratories from the user interface of the application.

After submitting the physical samples to the lab, the user will enter all associated information (chain of custody information, sample details, requested analyses, associated lab quote details, billing…) into the system and ‘submit’ this information to the lab.

The generated file (xml format) contains all this information and is sent as an email attachment to the designated lab email address.

Upon receiving this file, the lab can process the contained information and automatically import it into their LIMS (or equivalent) system.

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