In both a progressive and unique move, the West Virginia DEP joined the state’s call-before-you dig, or “One Call” center to help screen for improper excavations at about 100 of the state’s environmental covenant sites. The process requires a daily review of excavation tickets at or near these site which, in turn, allows DEP to alert excavators prior to contact with the area controlled by the covenant: engineered controls are protected, excavators avoid impact with hazardous substances, and residuals are not improperly disposed.
Seven years ago, we created a new methodology for increasing the effectiveness of institutional controls, and as of June 29, 2010 this innovation is protected by a patent.
So what led to the patent? Failed approaches led to a new idea. We knew a duty existed to monitor safe use of contaminated sites, but whose duty is it? First, we tried providing institutional control (IC) tools to the city for their implementation. We were inspired by the approach taken by the City of Emeryville, and thought to leverage that method to other cities. The Emeryville web database describes institutional controls that could be viewed by planners. However, after numerous visits to other local governments, we learned the hard way that most cities had other higher priorities. Except for cities dominated by brownfields, cities could not afford the time to track ICs. Ultimately, a venture capitalist challenged Terradex to take control of the process of making ICs effective. Any business must control its value proposition. This challenge sparked the innovation of Terradex’s LandWatch.
Returning to the the venture capitalist, we presented a methodology of a changed Terradex. Now Terradex, instead of relying on local government, took control of the land activity review process. Terradex controlled its value proposition. This challenge lead toward the patented innovation inherent to LandWatch, a methodology to monitor and respond to land activities. As it turned out, we ended up moving forward without the venture capitalist.
In the development of a methodology where we controlled the process, we observed that numerous other land activities beyond local permitting and planning could be reviewed. Around 2004, the Internet was just beginning to make visible numerous permit sources including excavation, real estate, building permits, and sensitive use (day care, hospitals, etc.). We saw this as a powerful new methodology, and sought to apply it to institutional control implementation. We also sought to protect the intellectual property we developed as we began to introduce it to clients.
Early clients like Chevron and BP appreciated the power of the innovation, and helped sponsor the development of the application. Today Terradex monitors hundreds of facilities across nearly 600,000 acres. We look forward to applying the protection the patent offers as we extend the methodology to more facilities across the country.