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Smart Mobile Tools for Field Inspectors supports inspection planning and management, field data collection, and evidence management, all within an integrated suite of digital tools to improve the quality and consistency of inspections.

CHALLENGE

Environmental inspections are largely paper-based processes requiring hours of preparation and post-inspection work. Smart Mobile Tools for Field Inspectors bring environmental inspections into the 21st century by streamlining operations and improving quality of information.

BENEFITS

Smart Mobile Tools for Field Inspectors (Smart Tools) will fundamentally improve the operation and management of environmental inspection programs by providing digital assistance to inspectors and their management during each stage of the inspection process.

Smart Tools will:

  • Improve communication and clarity of information
  • Optimize inspection resources
  • Improve field inspection quality and efficiency

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

The Smart Tools effort draws on the work of several states that developed inspection support software for a variety of media programs. States and EPA started by holding a Lean process improvement event that addressed joint Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), and air requirements for a mobile inspection software solution. The team used those requirements to drive their selection of a commercial off-the-shelf solution, and also tested ruggedized laptops for use with a software product. In 2018, the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials helped customize the tool for use in RCRA Subtitle C inspections. In 2019, a smaller team of state and federal RCRA inspectors worked on development and testing of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) of the RCRA Smart Tools software. A full national rollout of the Smart Tools software for RCRA is planned for the end of 2019.

UPCOMING MILESTONES

The Smart Tools team has kicked off a NPDES inspections workgroup in partnership with ECOS and the Association of Clean Water Administrators. They will build on current efforts and begin scoping an additional MVP for inspectors implementing the NPDES permit program addressing water pollution. Development will continue through spring 2020, followed by testing and planned completion by summer 2020.