About MCERTS and Environmental Data Management Systems – why it’s a very good thing.

MCERTS for Environmental Data Management Software (EDMS) – what does it mean?

MCERTS is a quality standard implemented and managed by the Environment Agency of England and Wales (EA).  It stands for ‘Monitoring Certification Scheme’. 

 


 

MCertification is available for a large range of monitoring equipment including software.  Certification helps to ensure quality and consistency of information, and within its jurisdiction, the Environment Agency (EA) sometimes mandates MCERTS equipment and techniques in permits, and also gives credit for MCertified equipment under its Operator Monitoring Assessment (OMA) scheme.

If you have an environmental permit or consent for discharges or emissions, it is important to know what is expected from your business.  One of the requirements may be monitoring to MCERTS standards.  If this is in your permit, it is very important that you comply and that all of your equipment, staff, labs, and contractors have the appropriate experience and certification.  It might be worth a quick check of your permit now!

There is no equivalent certification for an EDMS available anywhere in the world other than under MCERTS.  So although the EA has no jurisdiction outside England and Wales, clearly having MCERTified equipment and software is going to help give any regulator additional confidence.

 

How does MCERTS apply to an EDMS?

Many permits require multiple different types of data to be collected from dozens or hundreds of locations for hundreds of parameters at multiple different frequencies.  The management of related tasks around this big pile of data can be huge, and where an EDMS comes in.

Having gone to great lengths (and cost) to collect readings, there is then a need to validate that;

  • You are aware of and have implemented processes to manage your obligations under a permit
  • You have collected what samples and readings you should have, and received the correct amount of readings back (planning and scheduling)
  • The data is validated against compliance limits
  • Information is collated and analysed
  • Reports are produced
  • Data is held securely and is auditable in order that a history of edits, all calculations and methods are transparent

The above is where MCERTS comes in (as well as OMA audits).  MCERTS for EDMS provides a formal scheme for the product certification of data management applications which need to achieve the above list.

It covers in depth all major areas of development and coding standards, principles and practice, security and backups and ensures availability of source code should the provider no longer be able to develop or support the application.

 

 Additionally, it covers all major areas of functionality specific to an EDMS.  In this respect therefore MCERTS goes far further and is far more relevant than for example ISO9000.

 

The MCerts Standard comes in three parts

A. Generic software quality

Defining software lifecycles, software design, coding, and unit testing plus validation and integration 

 

B. Data management application standards

Ensures appropriate documentation and installation methods, validates the security of deliverables in terms of viruses and malware, etc., and rules for re-certification of newer versions. It then goes on to look at functionality.  The data must be stored securely with audit trails, calculations and validations accurate.  Interfaces with measurement devices must be accurate and reliable. Lastly, part B looks at the commercial status of the supplier to ensure (as far as possible) that the likelihood of them being able to continue to develop and support the product is high, and that measures are put in place to provide a backup of code should the worst happen.

 

C. Performance standards for specific applications

There are typically two types of EDMS, those specifically associated with, and connected to equipment, and a higher level system which collates information from a multitude of different equipment and laboratories, manual readings and etc., such as MonitorPro. Part C applies only to the former type of software and is specific to individual equipment types.  Part C does not apply to higher level ‘collation’ or ‘generic’ type systems.

 

Other resources

 

 

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About MCerts

About EHS Data

EHS Data is a world-leading UK based software company providing Environmental Data Management Solutions to over 1,000 sites in 40 countries worldwide. Since 1996, their versatile software solution, MonitorPro has helped organisations save time, improve planning, quality control, site analysis and reporting to manage environmental obligations and sustainability. MonitorPro is the first EHS Software solution to receive an MCERTS accreditation from the Environmental Agency.

 

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