Tag Archive for: Mobile

Better consumer complaint tracking for water utilities

Happy GIS Day! Environmental Data Viewed in a Whole New Way

EHS Compliance Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just get compliance software with much less time and effort? That is where Locus’ pre-configured apps come in.  They are market tested and fully featured yet still allow for flexibility/configurability in key areas such as:  Adding new data fields to capture industry specific information. Adding or removing document […]

Geospatial Business Intelligence for EHS

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GeoBI

Business intelligence (BI) is a critical component of any organization. BI lets you analyze data on your processes and products, so you have the information needed to make decisions and take actions to improve your business’s performance. BI applications have been available for several years, with offerings from many companies including Microsoft, Oracle, SAS, Qlik, and Tableau.

Initially, BI was focused on just a few areas such as finance, logistics, and sales. As BI effectiveness evolves you need information covering all aspects of your business. One key information set is spatial information, which is usually managed in a geographic information system (GIS). GIS applications have been available since 1965 but only became widely commercially available in the 1980s when ESRI released its first GIS applications. Since then, GIS has spread from the desktop to mobile devices and the cloud.

Often, an organization’s spatial data is separate from other data, kept in its own department or application. For example, your organization might have a GIS department that manages geographic information for your facilities. However, spatial data might also be in other departments such as sales (locations of clients); physical plant (buildings, infrastructure, assets); logistics (sales or delivery routes), or even human resources (safety incident locations). It can be challenging to bring together these disparate spatial data sources and integrate them with non-spatial data stored in spreadsheets, databases, files, and other data warehouses.

Several recent business trends, however, have made it much easier to bring together both spatial and non-spatial information to support GeoBI or Geographic Business Intelligence. First, the rise and ubiquity of the internet ‘cloud’ has made it possible for an organization to put all their data into the cloud. Your business staff can now access all your data, regardless of the physical location of the data or your staff. Second, GIS has evolved from its earlier days when it was a way to automate traditional cartography. Now, GIS supports advanced spatial analysis and visualization techniques, including buffering, contouring, interpolation, network analysis, and 3D mapping. And third, new applications and methods have broken the barriers between spatial and non-spatial data. GeoBI software applications can manage both types of data, letting you combine all your data for analysis and visualization. Applications that don’t explicitly support both types can be connected through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) for seamless transfer of data.

GeoBI and Locus

Locus Technologies has been a leader in bringing GeoBI to environmental data management. Locus’ software supports non-spatial data analysis via reporting, charting, and expert query functionality. The Locus GIS+ add-on lets you add spatial data to your analysis with the GIS+ functions for spatial query, data classification, time series analysis, buffering, and contouring. Let’s look at some examples.

  • Water quality: Clean water regulations may require your facility to identify and report any instances of chemical concentrations in water sources that are above certain action limits. To do this, you can load analytical results from chemical sampling into the application. Once the data is loaded, you can add the sampling results to the GIS+ along with overlays of plant assets, watersheds, aquifers, and other relevant geographic information. You can quickly generate maps showing concentrations at sample locations. In this way, you can identify ‘hotspots’ where your facility may be in non-compliance with regulatory requirements.

    The example below shows the GIS+ displaying tritium results from water samples along with watershed boundaries. The map represents each location with a symbol that is colored and sized to reflect the actual maximum value at that location. You can easily see spatial patterns and identify two areas of concern near the center of the map – one with orange and yellow circles, and another with red circles. You could then use other functions, such as charting or contouring, to further explore the results at these locations.
     

  • Air quality: Your facility may fall under clean air regulations such as the US EPA’s 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO standards. In short, this subpart establishes emission standards and compliance schedules for the control of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions). As an environmental manager, you could simply use a BI program to write and run a text query such as show me all emission assets that have exceedances under 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOO 
     
    However, Subpart OOOO often applies to the Oil and Gas industry where maps and GIS are heavily utilized. If you have data and maps, you can associate a data query to an area that is “lassoed” on the map. The example below shows several emission sites that have been grouped together by a user-drawn area. Locus shows a table of all data for the “lassoed” locations, including analytical results and regulatory exceedances. By simply putting a lasso around another set of emission locations, the query is automatically updated with the relevant results. No query needs to be written – you just need to lasso locations on a map! 
  • Safety: In a similar fashion, safety personnel can use a map to find different incident categories without having to train on reporting and query detailsWhen an incident occurs, efficiency of logging the essential information is paramount, and simple pulldown list coupled with graphics expedite the process when time is of the essence.   
     
    Below is a map where the manager and incident for rapid input was pinned to a location and for follow-up on a particular region the manager can apply a lasso query to list all Significant Injuries and Fatalities (SIFs), for root cause and other analysis.

GeoBI and You

The above examples show how GeoBI can bring all your data together for use in analysis and decision-making, leading to a more complete picture of your facilities and processes. Furthermore, by having one suite of applications for your GeoBI needs, your organization can be more efficient. If spatial and non-spatial data are in separate silos, accessible only by different staff, it is difficult for one person to perform a complete analysis. Files, maps, spreadsheets, and other data objects must be shuffled between different persons and applications. With your data in Locus software, a full GeoBI analysis can be performed by one person, leading to productivity gains and cost reductions.

In the future, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) could lead to GeoAI, which would combine GeoBI with powerful features such as predictive analytics, pattern mining, and anomaly detection. Stay tuned for a future blog post on these exciting possibilities!

Acknowledgments: All the data used in the examples was obtained from the publicly available chemical datasets online at Intellus New Mexico. 

Want to learn more about Locus Software Solutions? Reach out to our product specialists today!

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    Retire Your Environmental Paper Forms & Go Digital

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    I am constantly reminded by the number of calls we receive, that no matter how robust a SCADA and HMI system is, there is always a requirement for in-field O&M verifications and documentation. It’s almost universal and spans a myriad of industries, large and small, the need to monitor and record thousands of periodic (daily/per shift/weekly, etc.) routine readings/recordings at a prescribed frequency often recorded on pen to paper field forms. The same processes sometimes use “template” spreadsheets for data collection that are then emailed/placed on shared file servers or otherwise sent to some central location for review and post-processing. These processes are antiquated and subject to data quality and record-keeping challenges.  

    It’s time for an upgrade! 

    Electronic forms are great for collecting data and almost every business entity has built such forms in spreadsheets, word processing, or simple databases to collect the information. In addition, there is a software category of form builders, and they can certainly build forms. The question becomes is it a good fit to solve your business process issues?

    Most customers have more sophisticated needs than simply collecting information on one or more custom forms – they want to do something with all the information collected far beyond what simple form builder tools can provide. Even customers with sophisticated spreadsheet forms, can’t manage them as they multiply exponentially or their Excel gurus retire. 

    Here are some examples of where you may require software tools beyond a simple form builder: 

    • Collecting equipment readings on each shift at multiple locations and reporting the data to centralized management, who review the data, and look for trends/issues. 
    • Verifying and validating data at the point of data entry to eliminate data entry errors. 
    • Automatically visualizing (charts or tables) information in near real-time to make operations decisions. 
    • Sharing the information with others. 
    • Scheduling activities related to periodic or infrequent data collection events. 
    • Receiving notifications when actions are due. 
    • Automatically creating regulatory reports in prescribed formats. 
    • Creating complex workflows and audited approval processes. 
    • Creating intelligent forms with calculations based on past data or other criteria.

    Locus Platform is a configurable platform with standard applications that are easy to configure to customers’ unique requirements. One of its many strengths is its powerful form builder capable of creating simple or complex forms with simple or sophisticated logic. So, for customers looking to move from paper and spreadsheet templates, it’s an excellent option to consider, especially if you require more than a simple “fill in the blank” form for transmittal using mobile devices. Best of all, the data are securely stored in a database structure for reporting and alternative business uses and analyses, compared to the almost impossible management of hundreds of spreadsheets or paper forms. 

    Here are some examples where sophisticated forms are integrated with a flexible database: 

    • Water Utilities – Tracking chlorination and aerobic digestion processes with daily inputs/outputs with a monthly summary and chart and tracking well production across well fields. 
    • Water Utilities – Tracking periodic sewer discharges and water samples for permit compliance. 
    • Agriculture – Monitoring food processing equipment for compliance with optimum equipment opeating parameters for air permits. 
    • Pharmaceutical/Chemical Manufacturing Facilities – Tracking EHS daily, weekly, monthly, etc. investigations and in-house audits. 
    • Universities – tracking chemical inventories. 
    • Facility Engineering – Documenting O&M activities for groundwater treatment systems.
    • Electric Utilities – Monitoring water/energy/gas usage from old-style meters for sustainability reporting with data entry validation. 
    • Refineries and Terminals – Collecting O&M, usage, and wastewater data.

    If you still rely on paper forms and template spreadsheets and are ready to streamline your process and enhance the value of your data, give us a call and we can show you a range of options that will retire the paper forms for good!  

    Want to learn more about Locus Software Solutions? Reach out to our product specialists today!

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      5 Red Flags of Outdated Software

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      For 26 years, Locus Technologies has been helping organizations that serve millions of people a day. Throughout that time, our team of experts have noticed some common red flag with the alternative solutions that are available on the market. The alternatives can be more problematic that helpful, creating data congestion and slowing down your workflow. Your organization deserves a solution that alleviates the burdens of data entry, regulatory compliance, voluntary reporting, and more. Here are the top five signs that your organization is using outdated water software:

      1. Using paper form and/or transcribing data more than once

      To ensure the highest level of data quality, you should not be risking human error at multiple levels. Enter your data once, and have it audit-ready, set to go on regulatory and voluntary reports, which are created directly from Locus Software.

      2. Software support is not led by the specialist.

      Support doesn’t end after implementation. What we often hear from our customers when they switch from other providers is that they are delighted with the level of support that Locus brings with our software. Locus is proud to have the expertise and experience to back our software, and if there is anything you need, you can be sure that Locus support can get it done smoothly.

      3. The software has regular or unexpected downtimes.

      You need reliability. Your software should be available to you on-demand. Locus is proud to be the only environmental software developer to publicly share our uptime, which is over 99.9%. If you are experiencing downtimes at inconvenient times or for long periods, you should switch.

      4. It’s not mobile-enabled.

      Field collection is key for most organizations managing water quality data. You should be able to enter that data into your system once, and from anywhere, reducing errors and extra time doing the same work twice (or more!). Also, being able to access historical data at your fingertips can help you solve problems on the fly.

      5. It doesn’t provide actionable insights.

      Sure, you may have all your data collected, but what are you doing with it? If your software is not giving you meaningful findings from analyzing your data, then you are always going to be playing catch-up. Having the tools to help your organization look forward is essential in selecting water data management software.

      Want to learn more about our Water Data Management Solution? Reach out to our product specialists today!

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        LCFS Pathways for Alternative Fuel

        Locus Technologies, Nancy-Jeanne LeFevre walks through the process of identifying a project pathway boundary in this short video.

        Efficiently consolidate your environmental data

        Chris De Cree, an EHS Implementation Manager from Locus Technologies walks us through our container tracking tool.

        Compliance Minute – Waste Container Status Vlog

        Chris De Cree, an EHS Implementation Manager from Locus Technologies walks us through our container tracking tool.