I recently (July 15, 2015) attended the Environmental Measurement Symposium in Chicago put on by The NELAC Institute’s Forum on Laboratory Accreditation and National Environmental Monitoring Conference (cooperative agreement with the U.S. EPA). I sat in on the Plenary Session titled “Big Data: Environmental Measurement and Monitoring Data in the 21st Century.” One of the speakers was Stan Meiburg, Acting Deputy Administrator, U.S. EPA Office of the Administrator.
Mr. Meiburg presented a compelling argument on the need for technology and data science adaption in the areas of compliance, citizen science, and assessment on the health of the environment. Additionally, he spoke of internal processes within the agency (as well as inter-governmental) and the need for service enhancement and process streamlining. He specifically referenced the EPA E-Enterprise initiative and commented that the EPA can’t afford to do things they don’t need to do.
As a taxpayer and long-time environmental professional, I am happy to hear this from the EPA. But more importantly, whether in the public or private sector, more leaders need to take this stance and frame it within the context of high technology. How can any leader in today’s digital world allow their staff and their suppliers to do things they don’t need to do? Technology exists today to automate and streamline all of the core processes necessary for environmental liability and remediation management. That 10 to 20 percent reduction in a professional’s time, allows them to focus on what they really do well, not on low value tasks or jobs that can be automated.