• Dillon Carr

New app expedites work of Pennsylvania oil and gas field inspectors

The jobs of state oil and gas field inspectors got easier recently with the introduction of an iPad app, the Department of Environmental Protection said Friday.

A staff of 78 surface and subsurface inspectors previously performed 37,000 inspections per year – on paper. The app is expected to make inspections more efficient and allow more to be done each year, agency spokeswoman Deb Klenotic said.

The app, put into use in late February, allows surface-activity inspectors to synchronize their mobile devices with a centralized database. The DEP describes surface activities as including erosion and sedimentation, waterways encroachment, waste management and spill cleanup.

“The app has a form-like interface and allows the inspector to utilize radio buttons and canned comments to perform the inspection. There are also areas where free-form notes can be written and pictures can be taken and associated with the inspection,” Klenotic wrote in an email.

Raw data are stored on the inspector's mobile device until it syncs with the central database. Once that happens, the data are sent to a supervisor for approval and review. The results are posted online when the data are approved.

“Much-needed technology upgrades, such as electronic inspections, will ensure we have systems in place to match our ambitions as we work to respond agilely to business needs and deliver the highest level of service and transparency to citizens, community organizations and local governments,” DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement.

An additional app is being developed to aid the agency's 32 oil and gas sub-surface activities inspectors. That app is expected to be configured for 350 inspectors in other DEP programs by 2020.

The agency estimated it will see $3.6 million in productivity savings through the software.

The program aligns with the Governor's Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency, which was started in 2015 and has saved an estimated $156 million. The program's goal is to save $500 million by 2020.


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