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How Big Data is Changing EHS Management

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Are you drowning in data? You're not alone: The volume of business data across all companies worldwide is expected to double every 1.2 years.

Big data — which refers to all this information, as well our ability to capture, store, and analyze it — has been changing the way companies operate.

Here are 3 ways big data is changing EHS management:

1. Big data enables companies to capture rich, meaningful data

With big data, companies can capture large volumes of data that was previously out of reach.

For example, environmental data management software enables companies to capture air emissions data at 5-minute intervals across hundreds of source locations. From there, data can be processed for reporting and analysis.

In the future, remote data collection systems like health monitors and emissions sensors could also change the way companies capture data.

2. Big data helps EHS professionals look at data differently

Of course, the growing volume of data comes with its own set of challenges — namely, that it’s difficult and time-consuming to analyze by hand:

  • 53% of companies report relying on manual processes to get all the data in one view
  • 52% of companies say they spend too much time updating spreadsheets
  • 53% say that too much data is left unanalyzed

(Source: Salesforce)

Luckily, big data offers a built-in solution: Technology allows EHS professionals to make sense of thousands of data points in a split second.

Take, for example, environmental data, which has historically been cumbersome to tabulate. With the evolution of big data, organizations can analyze trends, drill down on details by location or media, measure actuals versus permit limits, and monitor emissions performance with a few clicks — something that was impossible with paper records.

These powerful insights are changing the way decisions are made within organizations: For example, a new OSHA electronic filing rule will soon require companies to submit electronic illness & injury logs in order to “help the organization focus their limited enforcement and compliance resources”.  

3. Big data shifts EHS management from reactive to proactive

Let's be clear: Big data isn't about turning data into intelligence — it's about turning data into action.

Simplified data analysis means that companies can get ahead of safety and environmental issues before they happen, from preventing chemical spills to avoiding falls.

In the future, expect predictive analytics to enhance this capability even more. For example, industrial facilities and utilities are already using advanced modeling software to assess the impacts of air emissions, proactively identify issues, and build mitigation plans.

The bottom line

EHS professionals are already struggling to make sense of the data they currently have, and the data deluge will continue to multiply. Now is the time to find an EHS management tool that will enable you to automate data collection and deliver easily digestible results.

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