A SCOTTISH firm is using a new generation of environmental sensors to refine the collection and analysis of data relating to environmental management.

Edinburgh-based Topolytics has embarked on a research and development (R&D) project at Grangemouth, one of the UK’s largest industrial sites, that employs sensors to measure sulphate emissions, carbon dioxide levels, wind speed, precipitation, humidity and other meteorological conditions.

“Basically, we’re using geography to provide insight into data, waste, resource efficiency,” said Topolytics chief executive Michael Groves. “You can literally go in and identify sites in which you have an interest and then measure everything on that site.”

Topolytics is incorporating statistical models developed by the University of St Andrews into its software to enhance its capabilities and improve the understanding of the behaviour of environmental monitoring sensors.

The technology allows businesses to observe their energy efficiency in real-time, and offer this service up to third-parties.

The project involves chemical manufacturer, CalaChem; air quality monitoring equipment provider, Air Monitors; Falkirk Council; the Scottish Government; the University of St Andrews; and Censis, the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensors and Imaging Systems.

The global market for environmental monitoring and sensing is expected to be worth £15 billion by 2020 and Mr Groves said there was huge potential for its services in the petrochemical and primary resources sectors; in addition to the manufacturing and commercial property companies with which it already works.

“With Topolytics, we said let’s build a software platform into which you can put all that data, and contextualise it so that you’re not just looking at numbers – you can get some meaning behind those numbers,” said Mr Groves.

Mr Groves started the company having been working in sustainability reporting and “noticed there was a big challenge around access to data, particularly related to environmental management – waste management, recycling, pollution, water use etc”.

“More sensing, more monitoring, more resource efficiency are the way things are heading – driven by increasingly demanding regulation, rising costs and a desire for transparency,” said Mr Groves. “That creates a real opportunity.”

The company, he said, was still in start-up mode. “We have spent a lot of time… run initial pilots and created initial versions of minimal viability,” he said. “Showing it to people to really understand whether it had real commercial value, rather than just assume it does.”

He said the initial plan was to pitch the service at small and medium enterprises, but large companies “love the approach”.

Among its early clients was RBS, for whom Topolytics provided analysis of its Gogarburn headquarters.

“It’s less about RBS’ financial services, but them as a major commercial property operator,” said Mr Grove.

Ultimately, Mr Groves said that the system would help firms that have to formally report to customers, investors or regulators.

Topolytics can help firms provide what Mr calls hyper transparency. “You can log in and explore different sites, see where all the data is coming from, and you get the narrative. It’s not just the numbers, it’s where things are and what the relationships between the sites are and why the numbers are what they are. We make the disclosure fast and frictionless.”