Assistant Director- Enterprise Surveillance Project
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
When the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) decided to install a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), it was apparent that it would have to interact with a variety of business areas and information systems, ranging from modern mobile systems to spreadsheets or pieces of paper, with large legacy mainframe systems in between. As part of its IT modernisation strategy, DAWR selected a commercial off-the-shelf system that could be rapidly configured and integrated as a discrete system that could communicate consistently. Three main challenges were faced:
- To describe samples gathered during biosecurity operations at the border and throughout the country so that they could be identified in our labs.
- To supply the results for information and decision by departmental business areas
- To consistently name organisms without creating our own taxonomic reference system, which would be costly to maintain and likely to be inconsistent.
These problems were solved by building an applications programming interface (API) that uses web services. Departmental systems can log samples with full metadata descriptions, saving time in the lab. Our scientists can rapidly assign names to specimens using a standalone taxonomic reference system, named "TaxaaS" (Taxonomy as a Service). These results can be shared with other systems, which can also refer to TaxaaS for their own purposes.
In this session, Stephen will share insights gained from designing and testing the LIMS interfaces:
- Understand the ways that information will flow in and out of the LIMS, both in the real world and electronically
- Don’t reinvent the wheel: use established data standards and work within the capabilities of the LIMS.
- Keep it simple, and document the interfaces, both for technical reference and to describe business rules and workflows, so that everyone can understand the system.