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Using big data, open platforms and distributed networks to collect, share, and analyse fracking information to drive solutions



Collecting, compiling, reporting and assessing data can be onerous, costly, sometimes opaque and unaccountable and...then what do we do with it? Big data, open platforms, free software and analytics, and distributed networks are a game changer.

Yet to be successful, any project must have local buy in and be constructed on sufficient, reliable data.

This project will use the egg (or similar) for distributed collection, sharing, and analyses of environmental data from fracking sites, related activities and their local environments to drive solutions.

The egg will be worn by workers and employees, residents in the area and others.

The egg will transmit data automatically to an open sourced open data platform for analysis, mapping, collation and assessment.

Automatic tracking will identify performance information. Social behaviour will compel companies to improve their systems and share their information to reduce overall industry emissions of fugitive and pollutant gases.

GPS tracking will allow data to pinpoint fugitive emissions locations, allowing industry to immediately identify problem areas through data gathered across technical, operational and maintenance activities. Collation of fugitive emissions data across the sector will help identify ways to reduce them, and best practices for technological, operational and maintenance decision making.

The shared identification of sector-wide solutions will provide the economies of scale needed to produce cost-effective industry wide solutions and motivations for distributed company decision making processes.


Category of the action


What actions do you propose?

The specific sensors that would be used would need to be determined (optical?, infrared?, multi-functional?), likely through a collaborative design process. To incorporate them into an egg or similar technology, citizen science and distributed design techniques would also need to be applied. These would be both relatively fluid and rapid processes. The data sets gathered could be readily designed and constructed to be integrated with other large data sets, however, not all existing data sets are easily integrated already (or open for that matter!), and the role of machine readable data sets and open data access is a crucial component of this project proposal. A sufficiently robust and flexible machine readable data set should enable relatively seamless integration with other large data sets, especially where open data and distributed citizen science plays a role, and where existing data sets are provided as free use and access open sets. As such, the captured data may also prove valuable to future climate modelling, helping forecast and adaptability planning.

The answer to incentives for companies to have their workers wear the sensors would be: "if they meet safety and privacy protocols, why not?" First, this requires a note on privacy. In order to maintain privacy and meet security concerns, the data collection must be done in an anonymous manner. There is little doubt neither citizens nor employees (with few exceptions) want their
movements tracked and analysed. Since the data will be collected and plotted using GPS tracking, the data incorporated will need to be stripped of any personal identifiers.

This is not a proposal for companies to track their workers. As for incentives, there are three key areas: 1) markets, investors and profits; 2) industry cooperation and regulatory development; and 3) operational efficiencies.

1) It would be of immense interest, one would think, that any company would want to ensure corporate social responsibility in as efficient and transparent a manner as possible. Moreover, if citizens were supplied to wear or install these in the vicinity of fracking activities, the information would already be in the public domain. When we detect a regulatory, safety or social or environmental infraction, we have markets and laws to manage the associated risks. Just because we can't see, hear or smell fugitive emissions does not mean they do not occur. Now that we have the technology to sense them, our natural senses can be extended in a collective awareness of the environmental, social, safety and other risks to identify and correct regulatory and environmental shortcomings. From a companies perspective, having this crucial data would help reduce financial risks associated with any future carbon credit strategy, carbon markets or carbon taxes. Data would also demonstrate, not only the poorest performers, but also the best performers. Any investor would like to know who is performing best, and why they are performing well. This knowledge can translate into a cooperative industry standard setting process. Markets reward good performers; industry groups and governments assist industry players by helping coordinate and manage risk, and that includes important business and technical information.

2) Understanding performance helps governments establish effective regulations, and industry partners identify best practices. Not only would having workers wear these sensors contribute to company financial strength, it would also contribute to industry and open-sourced opportunities to use that information in a productive manner to increase company profitability, identify best practices and important industry advances, and help establish regulations and practices that benefit both the industry and the environment. In that sense, it is not so much the need, in the context of this contest, to reduce methane leaks, but to avoid methane leaks to the environment. Were it possible, for example, to employ some simple technology or practice to capture methane from specific leak areas, or process activities, then the use of that methane might become a valuable economic incentive and future income stream. Alternatively reducing methane leaks from simple changes to operational or technological practices might serve to both decrease contributions to GHG emissions as well as improve process efficiencies. Industry cooperation, identification of best practices and regulatory development would benefit from companies sharing sensor information that could be used on open platforms. The data rich shared open systems that emerge would prove invaluable to future impact assessment, project development, and related activities, as well as other related sustainability planning activities and, through its potential for scalability, future health and environmental studies. That would serve well individual companies in future proposed projects.

3) In terms of operational efficiencies, workers wearing real-time sensors would have the added health benefit of safety, and company participation could be used to simplify any related
accounting processes and improve accuracy and transparency.

What better way to achieve this than to have distributed citizen science based cooperative crowdsourced open data analysed and used to find solutions at little to no cost to a company?


Who will take these actions?





policy makers

Where will these actions be taken?

near fracking activity sites

in the cloud

What are other key benefits?

This system has the added benefit of automatic tracking, saving enormous top-down government and industry resources while increasing transparency and accountability. Policy making processes can shift from top-down command and control to data-enabled distributed industry collective intelligence to meet climate change greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Additional benefits include awareness building both within and outside the sector, providing important national data on emissions through big data and emergent opportunities derived
through open sourced open data networks for information distribution and sharing to form broader collective intelligence networks. Proposal is also fully scalable and transferrable to other industries and sectors.

What are the proposal’s costs?


Time line


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