Case Study: MonitorPro

About the Environment Agency

England’s Environment Agency (EA) is a government body formed in 1996 to protect and improve the environment for people and wildlife. It has many responsibilities, including regulating industry and waste, and issuing permits for potentially polluting activities. These responsibilities involve a great amount of data collation from disparate sources, both public and private. Information was submitted on paper, which had to be manually inputted, processed and analysed. The EA reports to many different bodies, including local and central government as well as other public bodies. Its staff also have to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Public Register inquiries.

The Overview

The EA needed a centralised, automated, easy-to-use data acquisition, monitoring and reporting tool to streamline these processes. Following a competitive tendering process, MonitorPro was chosen, initially for a pilot project. then for a nationwide application. Suzanne Laidlaw, Business Intelligence Projects Manager & Data Returns Service Manager says, “EHS Data submitted a proposal through the Government Framework. They came in as providing the most comprehensive service, already proven. It was the best product available.” The software is now being rolled out nationwide and across industrial sectors.

The Background

The EA has to collate huge amounts of data, in various formats, including electronic and paper-based formats, analyse and then make sense of the data to submit reports and recommendations for action. This is a large task, complicated by an array of different data that the EA receives.
Paper-based records make this a mammoth, and labour-intensive task, particularly in relation to FOIA and Public Register inquiries which are costly for staff to do. The EA looked for better ways of doing this. In 2012, following a competitive tender, it chose MonitorPro as the best option for automating the process, and started a pilot project in the South East Region. Neil Gillan, Regional Waste Strategy Manager, says, “It was a pretty comprehensive test of the software, lasting for over a year.” According to Neil Gillan the software was chosen because it was judged to be the most effective, and was expected to result in cost-savings.

Environment Agency Requirements

The Environment Agency were looking for certain key features which would assist in data management:

  • Automatic importing and validation of submitted data via electronic means.
  • Flexibility the system would need to recognise different names for the same pollutant, e.g. Nox, nox, Nox but store it consistently.
  • Email alerts generated when there are compliance breaches or issues which need resolving.
  • Scheduling of which operator should be sending what data, and when (and alerting if not sent).
  • A simple to use Web based browser access, allowing users in various offices across the region to access data and information in a very easy and intuitive way.
  • Flexible reporting, including scheduled and user-generated.
  • The solution would need to have clear audit trails to facilitate accountability and be accredited to MCERTS.
  • Scalability would be essential as the solution would have to be expandable across the UK, cover a number
    of sectors and have a long lifecycle of deployment.

The Results

Environment_Agency_Timeline

Data MonitorPro is a powerful solution which institutes an automatic check between the government’s issued Permits and the company supplied reporting. No other Environmental Agency is known to be using such a sophisticated system at this time. This is the leap forward EHS Data have created, the automation of this process. It is saving the EA time and money so officers can do their, higher-level tasks more effectively. EA staff can now receive automatic warnings if reports are not submitted on time, if data is missing or if there are Permit Breaches. Managers can get regional reports on Compliance Breaches and general reporting statistics. In-depth analyses covering the whole of a company’s data can be generated, including historical ones for comparison. MonitorPro is being constantly updated. It has flexibility in the data formats and layouts it can accept and process – these protocols are being developed in partnership with EA to ensure that it is compatible with the widest degree of data input. Suzanne Laidlaw says, “EHS Data are very receptive to making changes and incorporating ideas that we have.”

Next Steps

EHS Data is continuing to work with the Environment Agency to ensure that MonitorPro continue to meet the EA’s needs in the future. The solution is continuously being expanded in size to accommodate the increasing amount of data from the national and cross-industry roll-out. MonitorPro is continuously updated to maintain the position as the most effective environmental data management tool, globally. It is being gradually rolled out to other sectors that involve permitting, for example water quality
monitoring or electrical waste recycling. “MonitorPro is very well suited to monitoring large amounts of data. It works very well with emissions monitoring compliance data. We receive over 80,000 submissions each year and it is able to handle all of those,” continues Suzanne Laidlaw.

The Pilot Project

A new single, central MonitorPro database was constructed, hosted on EHS Data’s servers, and the data migration began. The initial South East Regional landfill monitoring data was uploaded, and consisted of: 

  • 350 sites
  • 10,000 sample points
  • 1,200 parameters measured
  • 10,000 name aliases
  • 1.1 million readings

Environment Agency users access the system using either a
cloud-based Web portal called MonitorPro Web, or the installed client programme called MonitorPro Desktop. At that time, it was projected that the payback period for this system would be in the region of 12 months, taking account of the time and cost-saving of automated data handling. However, the reality was that it paid for itself in about three months.

The Pollution Inventory (PI)

This is a national database of information about releases and transfers of substances from regulated industrial activities, to protect the public and the environment, and to share with other Agencies. MonitorPro is being rolled out as the central repository of all the PI information. Data is collected and stored in MonitorPro. It works automatically checking that data is correct on arrival, analysing for abnormalities, errors and differences to previous years’ submissions. MonitorPro will also do the analytics and reporting for EA, trending performance, reporting on abnormalities and changes.

Expansion to the Rest of England

Over the past year MonitorPro has been expanded to cover the rest of England, following the successful pilot. It has proved it is able to handle the large expansion of data input and perform effectively. Neil Gillan said that the challenges were getting staff to invest time in learning the new system, which has big pay-off in terms of time saved completing repetitive tasks, which are now automated. He says, “The system is fairly intuitive so it doesn’t take a lot to learn how to use it effectively.” Suzanne Laidlaw agrees, “The interface is very intuitive, and while training was provided, it is very easy to use generally.” The payback time is expected to be one year. It will dramatically improve the capability of the Environment Agency to validate the compliance of the operators it regulates.

MonitorPro Key Facts

200

Mining Clients Worldwide

1000

Trusted users around the world

22

Research & development

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. For over 20 years, our 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. In 2020, EHS Data announced their pledge to become a carbon negative organisation.

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