A couple of days ago I saw a copy of a spreadsheet tracking legal and other requirements for EMS. What struck me, other than the immense size, was the interrelationship between that document and operational controls and other elements of the ISO standard. Then it hit me, again: Why aren't we using relational databases in our EMS work? Everything is tightly linked together, and trying to sort out all relevant linkages every time something is changed will likely prove futile, or at minimum very expensive and time-consuming. Why are we are cobbling together random spreadsheets, word documents, etc. with little thought given to their interconnectedness?
I remembered that Chris Miller, from the CAT (Content Analysis Team) had suggested that I look at a software package by GreenWare Enviornmental Systems that has been used by many:
Sample Client List:
• Environmental Protection Agency (40 Sites)
• Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (Shell)
• ITT Automotive
• Environment Canada
• Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
• Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission
• Solvay Polymers, Inc.
• Toshiba International Corporation
• Dupont Canada Inc.
• Dell Computer
• US Department of National Defense
• Inco Ltd.
• Local/municipal governments
GreenWare Government Clients:
• Air Armament Center
• Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
• U.S. Department of Energy - BWXT Pantex
• Canadian Forces Base Kingston
• Canadian Forces Support Unit
• Clean Water Services
• Defence Construction Canada
• Department of Homeland Security - Customs and Border Protection
• Department of National Defence HQ
• Environment Canada
• Fort Riley Directorate of Environment and Safety
• Greater Pretoria Metropolitan Council (GPMC)
• Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy
• Public Works and Government Services Canada
• U.S. EPA (40 Facilities)
In my preliminary look at their approach to EMS, I found that not only does the GreenWare system appear to be entirely compatible with our approach to EMS, but it even includes a "guidebook" or "manual" as they call it to conveniently co-locate all elements of the standard to serve as a basis for working the EMS. It even has spreadsheets for proving up on significance of environmental aspects. Furthermore there is a fully integrated calendar to help schedule all. Finally it seems relatively inexpensive.
So why won't we use it, or another compatible off-the-shelf system (or use one that is primarily off-the-shelf with a contract for enhancement)? Maybe we will, someday. But there seems to be little overt attention being placed to the acquisition of such software right now. Or at least there is little attention that I know about. Why not?
Are so steeped in "event mentality" – doing things once, postponing thought until after "the event" about continued do-ability of whatever it is we are attempting – that we forget that some things need to be designed simply, and inter-connectedly so that we can continue to use them (and improve them) from the moment they are turned on.
Have we been trained by forest planning and other nearly endless "events" that we have forgotten that organizations run best when run simply, while recognizing the complexity of the surrounding environment?
In any case, Why aren't we talking a lot about the urgent need to acquire or devleop adequate system-support for EMS?
For more, see Chris Miller's post in our EMS Support Systems blog.