To help protect public safety even more effectively, environmental agency DCMR Milieudienst Rijnmond wanted to accurately target its efforts towards addressing the gravest and most urgent threats.
Teaming up with IBM Business Partner DataExpert, DCMR deployed an innovative solution that identifies and evaluates environmental hazards, then prioritizes them according to severity and urgency.
Protectsthe public and the environment by helping DCMR direct resources to urgent cases
Full ROIon the solution within just two days
Boostsproductivity by enabling DCMR to prioritize routine checks to high-risk areas
Business challenge story
Focusing on better citizen safety
DCMR Milieudienst Rijnmond is tasked with helping to protect the environment in the highly industrialized and densely populated region of Rijnmond, including the major port city of Rotterdam. To fulfil its duties, DCMR works in close collaboration with other government agencies, such as the police, the fire department and the public health service.
A spokesperson from DCMR begins: “To provide an even more valuable service to the people of the Rijnmond region, we wanted to safeguard the environment even more effectively. Specifically, we wanted to sharpen our ability to prevent disasters—and to improve our management of incidents when they do occur.
“We receive numerous warnings about potential threats to the environment every day, and we simply do not have sufficient resources to act on all of them. We wanted to find a way to assess the urgency and severity of emerging incidents—ultimately enabling us to filter through the noise and work out which threats we needed to address soonest.
“To turn our vision into reality, we set out to find a solution that could help us sift through masses of incident data and pinpoint the most pressing threats.”
Transforming data into actionable insight
DCMR turned to DataExpert, an IBM Business Partner, for help selecting a suitable solution. On DataExpert’s recommendation, DCMR deployed a powerful solution based on IBM SPSS® and IBM i2® Analyst’s Notebook® software.
“We decided to work with DataExpert because they offer a wealth of experience with IBM solutions, including a dedicated team of experts for each product,” recalls the spokesperson. “We know that whenever we encounter a problem or have a question, we can rely on DataExpert for help.
“In addition, the DataExpert team took the time to understand our organization—and how to effect change—at the outset, so that we didn’t hit problems later on. The DataExpert consultants also trained our staff on how to use the IBM solutions proficiently, so that we could hit the ground running.”
Working closely with DataExpert, DCMR built a solution that collects and ingests data on potential threats from around 40 partner agencies, including the police and the fire service. Next, DCMR analyzes the incident data using IBM SPSS Modeler predictive analytics software, using rule-based decision making to determine whether or not a potential threat merits further investigation.
After completing the initial analyses in IBM SPSS, with a single click of a button, DCMR exports the results to IBM i2 Analyst’s Notebook for further study. Finally, each incident is assigned a score. For example, threats scoring a one or two are deemed to require no further action, unless they subsequently increase in severity. Incidents with a score of three must be discussed, while threats scoring four or five must be addressed. Depending on the nature of the threat, DCMR either resolves the problem itself, or enlists the help of the relevant government agency.
“By ranking incidents according to their urgency and severity, we can process massive quantities of risk data and transform it into actionable information very quickly,” adds the spokesperson. “That ability is critical during emergencies, when faster reactions can save lives.
“IBM i2 Analyst’s Notebook is particularly useful because it helps us transform complex statistical analysis into eye-catching visualizations. In particular, the i2 solution helps us spot hidden relationships between different entities—including people, locations, objects, events, transactions or phone calls—that would otherwise remain buried in mountains of data.
“For example, if we receive multiple complaints about poor air quality from locations close to different branches of the same company, we can make that connection and launch an investigation. Or, if citizens make multiple complaints about a single subsidiary of a major holding company, we can zero in on the area that we may need to survey.
“Because IBM i2 Analyst's Notebook paints a picture, rather than providing reams of complex statistics, the results can easily be understood by our own employees and our partners. So if we need to hand over a case to the police, we present our findings in a format they can easily understand, so they can pick up where we left off.”
Driving effective, reasoned response to threats
With the IBM solution in place, DCMR can deliver a smart, effective response to emerging threats.
“If we receive a call reporting a fire, we can use stationary street-level devices or drones that measure air quality to assess the density of the smoke,” explains the spokesperson. “That helps us to determine the severity and cause of the fire, as well as the potential impact on public health. For example, if a building containing asbestos is on fire, that represents a much greater risk than an average blaze, because asbestos releases highly toxic chemicals when it comes into contact with flames.
“If, for example, a new road is being built, we can use devices to detect the pollution levels, and react accordingly. Similarly, if the wind starts blowing fumes from one of the local steel plants towards major settlements, we can identify that risk and take action to protect the environment.
“To keep life pleasant for local residents, we impose nighttime noise restrictions on restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Using listening devices, we can determine whether these rules are being adhered to, and intervene where necessary.”
The spokesperson continues: “The IBM solution helps us react to environmental risks more quickly and intelligently than ever before. In a Proof of Concept, we reenacted a previous disaster scenario, and determined what we would have done differently if our actions had been guided by the IBM solution. We discovered that if history were to repeat itself, our superior reactions to the threat would have given us a full return on our investment in the IBM solution within just two days.”
As part of its duties, DCMR carries out routine checks to ensure that businesses with offices in the region are compliant with all relevant environmental rules and regulations. Using the IBM solution, DCMR can ensure that these visits are more effective than ever at highlighting risks to the environment.
“For years, our intuition guided our decisions about which companies needed environmental audits,” recalls the spokesperson. “Now, IBM i2 Analyst’s Notebook and IBM SPSS Modeler tell us where to go. For example, if the air quality near a certain chemical factory has been substandard for a few months, that location would merit a visit. Similarly, if an industrial plant has expanded since our last visit and we have received several complaints about noise or pollution, we can decide to audit them.
“In the past, government regulations required us to visit a certain number of companies to fulfill our audit quotas—but the focus was entirely on quantity, with no regard for quality. As the largest environmental agency in the Netherlands, we negotiated a change in the regulations to focus on quality-driven audits. Now, we visit around 40 companies per month instead of 100, but because those visits target the highest-risk areas, we identify and address more threats to the environment.”
Overall, the IBM solution enables DCMR to become more effective at preventing disasters. Whenever incidents do occur, the organization can respond rationally and effectively, minimizing any adverse impact on the environment.
Following its early success, DCMR is looking to deploy enterprise-class technology for sharing the results of its analyses with partner government agencies, driving even faster joint action.
The spokesperson concludes: “Our primary duty is helping protect the environment. With IBM, we are saving time, making the Rijnmond region safer and keeping life pleasant for local communities.”
About DCMR Milieudienst Rijnmond
DCMR Milieudienst Rijnmond is an environmental protection agency serving local and regional authorities in the Rijnmond region of the Netherlands. To safeguard the environment and everything associated, the organization sets regulations about safety and the environment, oversees compliance with these rules, monitors environmental quality, provides advice to other authorities, and addresses threats to public safety. In total, the organization employs 500 people.
Take the next step
DataExpert is an IBM Business Partner specializing in delivering solutions, training and support to help clients crack down on criminal behavior. The company has operations across Belgium and the Netherlands. To learn more about DataExpert, please visit: www.dataexpert.nl
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