Sensors are designed to measure sulphate emissions, carbon dioxide levels, wind precipitation, humidity and other meterological conditions
Software analytics firm Topolytics is one of a consortium of companies and experts taking part in an initiative that will help to establish new standards for environmental monitoring.
The research and development project underway at Grangemouth, one of the UK’s largest industrial sites, puts the start-up at the heart of more intelligent use of environmental sensors, allowing users to better understand, and have more confidence in, data produced by them. This could lead businesses to better understand their impact on the environment, help to minimise environmental risk and more effective waste monitoring.
For the pilot, Topolytic will be collaborating with chemical manufacturer, CalaChem, air quality monitoring equipment provider, Air Monitors, Falkirk Council, the Scottish Government, the University of St Andrews and CENSIS, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensors and Imaging Systems.
Current sensor systems will detect when there is an issue to be addressed at a particular location, however, they can generate incorrect readings. This may be due to something as innocuous as a bird standing over a sensor or a break in the clouds causing a sudden rise in temperature.
Statistical models developed by the University of St Andrews will be incorporated into Topolytics’ software. The sensors at Grangemouth are designed to measure sulphate emissions, carbon dioxide levels, wind speed, precipitation, humidity and other meteorological conditions, with the resulting data feeding into the models and then through Topolytics’s dashboard.
The aim is to enhance Topolytics’s capabilities and improve understanding of the behaviour of environmental monitoring sensors.
“A lot of the data produced by sensors is noise – it’s not always clear how that data should be filtered through into decision-making, which can be tricky in situations where decisive action is required quickly,” said Professor Simon Dobson, director of research at the University of St Andrews School of Computer Science.
“What we’re doing will cut through all that noise and help decision-makers see what they actually need to, if anything at all. The statistical modelling we’re using will be able to identify and eliminate many of the false positives that crop up so frequently – particularly in highly-regulated markets such as petrochemicals, which require a great deal of monitoring.”
The pilot project will also feed into Topolytics’s ongoing product development, which sees it measure and monitor a growing range of environmental data, including solid waste and recycling, water, effluent and air emissions. The data may come from fixed and mobile sensors/meters, airborne scanners and weighbridges.
Mark Begbie, business development director at CENSIS, added: “This project demonstrates the transformative effect sensors can have on society and businesses. The 170 sensor and imaging system-focused businesses in Scotland contribute £2.6 billion to gross value added and employ some 16,000 people – and their wider impact in enabling other business to operate more intelligently and efficiently is even greater.”