Addressing environment concerns over the last 25 years
By Simon WatsonMay 18, 2023
Most of us, especially in recent years, are increasingly concerned about the environment, whether it's the water, air, land, human health or climate change. It's easy to get discouraged when we imagine not enough is being done.
It's our 25th anniversary as a company, and it's given us pause to reflect on our own contributions over 25 years but, more importantly, what has more broadly been accomplished to protect the environment.
What our government has accomplished in the 80s and 90s
Environmental efforts used to be highly reactive, limiting the damage. Today, environmental efforts are becoming more proactive with a focus on next generations.
Before Windsor's inception in 1998, we noticed that many of the government's environmental activities were reactive; attempting to address troubling forms of pollution and human health impacts and ensuring disaster-related events are not repeated. There was more of an emphasis on immediately protecting people's health from toxic materials or pollutants. For example, in 1986, Congress implemented new laws which gave people a right to know about any nearby chemicals, making companies accountable to disclose this information to nearby communities.
This law was prompted, in part when, in 1984, 170,000 people who lived near a plant in Bhopal, India were killed or injured due to a chemical leak.
These governmental accomplishments created positive change; much overdue and needed.
A shift from reactive to proactive environmental protection
Over the last 25 or so years, environmental agencies have become increasingly focused on proactive oversight and regulation, reducing not only the ongoing risks of current pollutions, but focused also on mitigating the negative impacts for future generations..
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
Native American Proverb
Environmental accomplishments by government over the past 25 years
So, where are changes being made? While the United States EPA provides a national consistency to much of the environmental regulations, most of the work is performed locally by state agencies; and our work supports them behind the scenes.
Here are some of our favorite accomplishments by governmental agencies:
Mandating accountability through reporting is on the rise
The saying, “What gets measured gets managed” is certainly true! It's one thing for private industry leaders to believe they are all for the environment, but it's another thing if they are required to measure and report on what they do. Reporting on their activities has made a significant difference.
A holistic approach to addressing and reporting water, air, and land together has increased
Now reporting better reflects and represents our planet as the interconnected ecosystem that it is! In contrast, historically, agencies could reduce or eliminate pollution discharged into the water, but companies could switch to disposing that same waste into another medium; for example, by increasing air emissions. Thankfully, by implementing more 'multi-media' regulations, industry is more motivated today to find alternative non-polluting methods instead of alternative less-regulated processes.
This separation of air, water and land used to be a dilemma. Regulations, starting in the 1970's, separated out air, water, and land, and today's regulations continue to be separated for the most part. Likewise, many state agencies are still organized into groups who work on air, water, and land separately. But, the reports required from industry are now more comprehensive.
With industries now required to report on air, land, and water together, it's increased both their awareness and accountability, which in turn has created real positive change to protect our environment.
Guy Outred, CEO, Windsor Solutions
During our early years as a company, the Internet provided a fundamental opportunity to exchange paper documents for online reporting. Before online reporting and access to information, reporting was separated by air, land, and water, and there was much duplication and governmental effort just in managing these separate paper reports. Now agencies have access to searchable repositories of information, which has also increased industry awareness, transparency and accountability. And the industry has greatly appreciated the time savings and increased intuitiveness that good online systems provide.
More data visibility and insights
Today, there are more ways for agencies to mine data and gain insight into how we impact the environment. That has helped our agencies know what to ask for, how to prioritize issues, how to report it, and how to best take action.
What Windsor has done to support these accomplishments over these past 25 years
Since our inception in 1998, we embraced the shift towards more proactive environmental stewardship and the wide-reaching shifts from paper processes to online. Through our work we have been able to support our state and local government partners in making these accomplishments in environmental management in multiple ways.
We created the first highly reusable, regulatory environmental data management system and it's our clearest and most notable success. Every state, county and city has unique environmental challenges, and in many cases, their own specific regulations. We used our decades of experience to mold a system that could both provide excellent common functionality, but also allow it to be shaped to each individual's needs. Originally, our company, like similar technology companies, would create custom software. Now our software platform can be configured for each unique agency, speeding up implementation and lowering agency costs. This platform demanded next level design and technical adeptness, and it's been a thrilling ride.
We have simplified the work of environmental agencies. Over the last 25 years, we have emerged as the leader in private industry through helping environmental agencies in every state, enabling them to do their work with less money and with more efficiencies, but also by enabling them to discover more insights. Our mission is to enable these protectors of our environment, and at this 25th year, we celebrate how far toward that mission we have come.
Our data systems have actively supported emergency response. We have been able to organize enormous, disparate, and complex data so that it can be presented in a more meaningful way. Public data sites, such as this site, have been used for first responders during emergencies. For example, if a responder needs to wade through a flooded area, they need to know if the water might be harmful due to toxic chemicals seeping into it from nearby flooded facilities or ground pollutions. Also, in recent years, fire fighters in California have used our public information sites to know if there are any chemical plants at risk.
About Windsor Solutions
All environmental agencies have unlimited environmental challenges but with limited resources. Our job has been to enable them to be better at their tasks, which includes helping them with quicker visibility, stronger workflow efficiencies and better tools to act with precision.
We remain a hopeful group at Windsor, doing what we can do to simplify and streamline the work of governmental agencies across all states. After all, they have much still to do, and so do we.
If you'd like to comment on this blog or contact us, we'd love to hear from you.