SEMINAR: A Fourfold Sutra for Environmental Monitoring and Compliance
|A Fourfold Sutra for Environmental Monitoring and Compliance : Dr Rohan Sadler, Astron Environmental Services
A Fourfold Sutra for Environmental Monitoring and Compliance: Regulation, Remote Sensing, Information Management and Product Development
R&D (research and development; including process improvement and leaning up) is really the only means a small- to mid- tier company can compete (i.e. survive!!) during a market downside. For small players in a contracting market, especially if the firm responds late to the margin squeeze, R&D characteristically is an all or nothing affair given the few surplus resources available to the small players, i.e. there is limited opportunity to spread your risk across an R&D portfolio. Moreover, R&D must target regulatory requirements which is by far the strongest driver forcing market participants to engage in environmental monitoring; in effect regulation requiring environmental monitoring is a key element of the social license given to miners to extract natural resources. Interestingly, past monitoring is generally poor both in quality and availability, with a big constraint being sampling bias, i.e. sampling occurs at such a small scale so as to confound any conclusion to be drawn at a scale appropriate to the regulation. Remote sensing aims to scale up environmental monitoring to overcome sampling bias, and some examples of UAV (unmanned airborne vehicle) data capture will be illustrated. Regulation also requires often sophisticated analytics be applied to available data to
distinguish the effect of human activities from naturally noisy, lagged and/or event-driven changes in environmental
state. This requires the integration of data, warehousing, analytics and decision tools into an information platform that enables objective and repeatable diagnostics of system state to be delivered as the basis for environmental
management. However, the potential space of information and monitoring products that can possibly be developed can
expand exponentially when addressing the information needs of an evidence based approach to environmental
monitoring and compliance, and so the product development funnel will be outlined briefly. With a bit of luck, such an
approach will lead to a temporary outwitting of the gambler’s ruin problem, at least until the next iron ore price dive, if one can but convince the regulator, clients and internal users to accept and indeed champion new methods and technologies in a timely fashion. And you never know, such an approach may also benefit the environment through delivering measurable outcomes.
Rohan is a Senior Scientist at Astron Environmental Services, an environmental consultancy serving primarily the resources sector. His current role has more to do
with the ‘D’ side of R&D (i.e., product development) than in past roles with UWA on the ‘R’ side. This ‘D’ side focuses on expanding Astron’s capacity in data governance, analytics, information delivery and remote sensing across a range of business units, some of which earned him ‘Innovator or the Year’ at Astron in 2013. While Rohan’s academic background is in ecological complexity theory and statistical computing, he does enjoy an affinity with the School as an Adjunct Senior Lecturer, and on occasion enjoys poking his nose into how economists may think. Professionally, Rohan is an AStat accredited statistician. Privately, caffeine is a magic word.
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