A prospective Enhesa client contacted us recently to ask the following questions:

“Could you tell me if Enhesa, or one of the EHS software providers you are working with, is considering the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)? For example, this could be asking for a regulatory citation using verbal command (SIRI or Alexa-style), or the software proactively proposing a citation based on the wording of a finding.”

It’s a very good, topical question – everyone seems to be talking about A.I., Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, etc. But in practical terms, how close are we to practical uptake of such initiatives in the Environment, Health & Safety context?

Verdantix, the independent research firm, recently published a paper outlining the upcoming technology roadmap for EHS companies. They looked at different types of practical applications of technology in EHS and examined the level of development and/or adoption of each. Below is a screen shot of the summary diagram from that paper. As you can see a lot of new technologies are still in their infancy so it’s hard to say exactly which ones will get adopted into the main stream and which ones won’t. The term “Artificial Intelligence” could potentially be applied to a number of these. 

Verdantix.jpg

 

In the context of this specific question we received, which focuses very much on the concept of voice recognition/operation, we can say that Enhesa won’t be using AI directly – we are not a software company and instead provide ‘raw material’. In any event, the insights offered by AI will be best used at the transactional level when managing compliance with EHS laws (for example, dealing with non-compliances, tasks, or action plans).

However, the potential for our Compliance Intelligence information to be used within AI applications is most definitely there. This is because we have organized our Regulatory Compliance Intelligence (or “content”) in a consistent structure across all our jurisdictions.

At Enhesa we make sure all our content is clean and follows the same structure worldwide. So, all the Lock-out / Tag-out requirements will always be located under the same heading whether you’re in Japan, France or USA. This provides the software platforms a solid data foundation for them to run advance analysis on and look for predictive trends across your facilities. In turn this could lead to the application of AI technology.

However, if we look at each of our Global Strategic Software Partners, we can see the following:

  • Gensuite has an app that can be voice controlled (link). It’s in a proof-of-concept stage, but they have a vision where you can ask Alexa to read out information tied to their various apps, high risk non-compliances, facility notices/alerts, etc.
  • Intelex has a more fleshed out model and built an analytical framework around their platform called Intelex Alliance. It’s ready to go today, but in its current iteration it’s more of a benchmarking tool where you can share information anonymously across all Alliance clients. They have an in-house data science team that is always looking for in-sight that can be shared with their clients.
  • Enablon, at their recent SPF conference in Chicago in September 2017, announced and demonstrated several ongoing initiatives that indicate an intention to walk-the-talk when it comes to applying digital innovations to solving EHS management problems. For example:
    • A smart assistant that uses artificial intelligence to provide context-sensitive suggested action plans (prescriptive analytics)
    • A feature that combines mobile, machine learning and geospatial technologies to dynamically identity risks (predictive analytics)
    • A data interoperability tool that enables integration between corporate business intelligence systems and Enablon data, helping to enable advanced analytics

To summarize and answer the broader question “Is there a place for Artificial Intelligence in EHS Regulation? The answer is – Yes, there is a potential. However, the adoption of AI technology in EHS industry will also depend on the quality of the content which would be used. As far as the role of content providers is considered- Enhesa now provides a more extensive set of commands in its content delivery so that customers can selectively request the necessary information. The richness and extensiveness of the Enhesa content can be seen as a tool to plow a ground for the industry which is open to adopting new and emerging technologies. Though it is cliché to say -Technology changes fast, the industry has embraced new technologies such as SaaS models very quickly. As EHS moves more into the cloud, these future technologies will offer new and exciting opportunities for data analysis.