High-frequency coal combustion residuals (CCR) compliance monitoring programs generate large datasets that are often under-utilized. You may have collected the data for compliance reporting, but you can use it for much more than just generating data tables to submit to a regulator. Investment in a comprehensive, cost-effective data management protocol allows you to use your data to guide strategic decision-making regarding CCR unit operation. Among other benefits, fully utilizing your data allows for more accurate liability forecasting, identification of compliance trends and the creation of a sound compliance program to reduce risk.
To learn how to efficiently manage your CCR data, consider the following five insights.
01 Identify the specific questions that you want your data to answer
Get the most out of your data by carefully laying out its purpose before you begin to collect and manage it. If your data will be used to demonstrate compliance, know what statistics or comparisons are required by the state and/or federal compliance rules governing your CCR units. Additional data may be needed if you also intend to use your CCR data to explore the ability to predict future constituent concentrations in groundwater or other trends. If your questions change or expand over time, or you are potentially facing corrective action, remember to make sure you’re collecting the right data to answer the new questions.
02 Actively manage your data
By establishing a consistent workflow that applies to all data and includes quality control steps from data receipt to end use, you can avoid typical pitfalls such as:
- Contributing to inadvertently biased data handling or reporting
- Generating reports based on data of questionable quality that result in challenges to your compliance status
- Making operational decisions based on data of questionable quality that lead to escalation of site management requirements
- Generating a data set that is unusable without first investing significant resources
03 Maintain a comprehensive database of all relevant data
Maintaining a current, comprehensive and uniform database ensures your data is ready when you need to use it. Data quality and comparability issues are greatly reduced with use of a consistent workflow and one database. Note that if you have a third party maintaining your database, for greater flexibility, you may want to keep an up-to-date copy for yourself as well.
04 Streamline statistical analyses
Most compliance programs require some level of statistical analysis. Often this necessitates exporting and manipulating data to be used in one or more statistical software packages. Using statistical software packages that allow direct connection to your database creates efficiencies and reduces potential for error.
05 Well-managed data can be used for multiple applications
A set of well-managed data can be used to streamline analyses, explore relationships between data previously thought to be unrelated or answer new questions. For example, well-managed data allows you to:
- Use automated routines to reduce manual effort and obtain efficient, consistent and reproducible compliance results
- Apply advanced data visualization tools to quickly identify outliers or errors, focus compliance strategy on true non-compliance issues, and explore relationships and trends between CCR data across your compliance fleet
- Gain real-time insights into the effects of proposed regulatory changes by quickly comparing existing data to proposed groundwater protection standards, then using results to preemptively develop related business strategies
- Improve stakeholder awareness by sharing simple data visualizations to help explain complex concepts