In econ 101, we learn about something called the ‘negative externality.’
At risk of oversimplification, it’s defined loosely as any unforeseen consequence of market activity that someone else has to pay for—from nuclear waste mutating Blinky the three eyed fish from The Simpsons to landfills leaking toxic chemicals into the water table. It includes more than just pollution, but you get the idea.
Contaminated sites are a concern because they can pose a threat to human health, the environment and safety. The effects of contaminants on humans can range from minor physical symptoms to life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Environmental hazards can include:
- Harm to fish, animals and birds
- Accumulation in the food web
- Causing imbalance to ecological functions or systems
If we’re being cynical (and I am generally prone to cynicism) then another tenet of market logic makes an appearance: a company will clean up their messes only if it is somehow in their best interest. There have been a lot of companies where cleaning up their messes has proven to be not in their best interest because it involves gobbling up extra revenue. They’re there to extract their chosen payload and provide value for their shareholders, and like unsupervised toddlers, they won’t clean up unless someone in power makes them.
“The facts are incontrovertible,” said Jennifer Krill, executive director of Earthworks, an environmental advocacy group. “Mining is the nation’s largest source of toxic pollution. The costs have been counted and are only going to continue to grow.”
But the going market logic has that behind every calamity hides an opportunity for those with the vision to see it, seek it and the will to get their hands dirty.
Enter Carl Data Solutions (CRL.C), and their subsidiary FlowWorks, the proprietor of an environmental monitoring software-as-a-service application involved in environmental remediation, and its new hydrometric analysis feature.
“This tool will allow our clients immediate access to the information needed to understand if their efforts in remediation and preservation of water resources are succeeding. As more regulations to protect water reserves come into effect, cities and corporations will need these kinds of tools to comply,” said Greg Johnston, Carl Data chief executive officer and president.
Carl Data Solutions is an industrial internet of things (IOT) company offering collection, storage and analytics solutions for data-centric companies. The FlowWorks application captures data from all types of monitoring devices, gauges and sensor hardware, including Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, and other public and private data sources. The information is stored on a single platform, which can then be accessed to provide analysis and reporting, saving end-users time and money, and potentially PR.
Beyond that, they monitor tailings ponds, sewage, and water levels and quality, among other things.
But the overall task FlowWorks assists in performing is called environmental remediation and it’s commonly used by resource companies to clean up their messes, or try too, after they’re done extracting their product from the ground.
Usually, this will be after the company has been caught strangling the environment by some regulatory body and slapped with a clean up order, although there is something to be said for the companies that we never hear about because they take care of their problems before they become problems.
FlowWorks, we can suppose, is for them as well.
The hydrometric analysis tool allows engineers, hydrologists and operations staff to easily understand the impacts of water-dependent industries or land development on the environment. Resource development operations, like mine sites for example, use hydrometric analysis to determine the efficacy of their efforts restore its water ways.
The new FlowWorks enterprise edition provides larger clients with specialized features designed to make it operate it more efficiently, and the cost? Between $100K and $300K annually, depending on the size of the deployment.
Big Data applications and analytics is projected to grow from $5.3B in 2018 to $19.4B in 2026, attaining a CAGR of 15.49%, according to Statista.
Who knew you could make money from cleaning up other people’s messes?