How important can live weather and gas sensor data really be? Is it all that different from static data? The answer is a resounding yes. Using live data compared to static data can save lives in the event of a chemical emergency and impact the safety of an entire community.

A risk not worth taking

When it comes to protecting their staff and surrounding communities many chemical companies think their practices are up to par. In reality, if chemical companies are not using live weather and gas detection readings when responding to emergencies they’re making their staff and communities vulnerable to serious health and safety hazards.


Multiple factors impact the distance and direction of travel when a chemical is released. Static data alone cannot model how the chemical will disperse as accurately as needed. Live data accounts for continuous gas sensor readings and meteorological information as it changes, takes into account the terrain of a specific area (including hills, valleys, rivers, etc.), is then used to create a highly accurate plume dispersion model, and allows for that model to automatically update as the variables change. As seen in the video linked to below, a company can unknowingly harm an entire community without the proper data readings.

According to the Emergency Response Plan, the chemical release, which was based on static weather data, was only predicted to impact a small part of the community. With live weather and gas sensor data, a company has the ability to pick up on a wind shift and subsequent changes in gas sensor readings as the chemical disperses. Taking into account an elevated ridgeline in addition to the wind shift, the plume is accurately modeled and can be used to execute a tactical emergency response based on what’s happening as it’ s happening.

With live data, an emergency can be effectively responded to and an evacuation and safety plan can be shared with staff and the surrounding community. Additionally, a company is able to do its due diligence and report accurate data about the chemical release as required by local and federal regulations. Aside from the safety of the community, a company is able to protect itself and uphold an honorable reputation.

Great, so what else is live data good for?

Live data is helpful in conducting live training exercises in preparation for worst case scenarios as well as responding effectively in the midst of an emergency, but can it be of any use afterwards too? Absolutely. When live data is archived, it becomes extremely useful for post-event analysis and in response to litigation. If a community member feels they were harmed due to a chemical release, a company is able to defend itself using historical data. With an archive of real-time comprehensive data, a company can model and demonstrate the distance and direction of travel of a released chemical definitively proving and displaying whether or not the chemical ever reached their location. Aside from the company being protected from such claims, the citizen is also able to investigate other explanations as to the cause of their claims.

So one word DOES make a difference!

Unreliable and inaccurate data is a thing of the past, so why rely on an outdated data collection source? When it comes to the safety of a community and reputation of a company, live data is the best and only way to go. Geographical location, complex terrain, constant weather changes, and unpredictable chemical releases have an enormous impact on chemical plume behavior. So when it becomes a matter of life or death, the choice is simple. Choose life. Be SAFER.

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Eric Fishman is the Vice President, Operations and Applications of Safer Systems. He holds a degree in chemical engineering from Michigan State University. He has 8 years of experience delivering world class emergency response systems to chemical and Oil & Gas facilities all over the world.