EPA's Next Generation Compliance initiative is a comprehensive overhaul of EPA's pollution monitoring and reporting requirements. Applicable to both air and water, it is designed with real-time wireless sensors and real-time cloud-based reporting in mind.
Although tried and true, many of EPA's fresh water regulations are now dated. When formulated, the clean water act could not anticipate the advent of IoT and cloud-based computing. Reporting requirements were paper-based and prone to inaccuracies and delays.
Started in 2013, the Next Gen project has 5 related goals:
1. Improve compliance through detailed online reporting.
2. Promote real-time monitoring through new connected sensors.
3. Require all reporting to move from paper to online.
4. Increase transparency by disclosing more data.
5. Improve ability to find big and repeating violators.
Holding these initiatives together are new internet-connected real-time continuous sensors which can be monitored and controlled remotely. Once the security and integrity of the data is established, it can be trusted. The data then can be easily analyzed and intelligence can be derived from it. When the industry converts totally over to these new internet infrastructure, the ability of owners and regulators to understand and correct problems will increase substantially.
EPA has started citing examples of various state and local agencies starting to implement such best practices even before a definitive plan is set by EPA. It is not known, at the time of this writing, when EPA will release new compliance protocols. Moving en masse to the new system will require careful attention to not only data security and chain of custody, but also to properly storing and managing this data, analyzing it to derive intelligence, and basing key management decisions on it.